AELA PosterSome of the city’s most outstanding stewards of the environment received accolades at the first annual Abbotsford Environmental Leadership Awards hosted by the Abbotsford-Matsqui Rotary Club on February 9, 2012.

There were seven categories, and 22 individuals and organizations were nominated. Close to 200 people were to attend the banquet at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre.

Organizer Bert van Dalfsen said all of the nominees have been doing impressive work, and it was difficult for the committee to pick winners.

“There are others that are marvelous in their own ways.”

The winners were:

Energy Saver – The Abbotsford School District, under the leadership of Tom Louie, for comprehensive energy saving programs. It started in 2008 with simple requests to turn off lights and computers when not in use, and expanded to a natural gas conservation plan, an alternative energy program at Abby Middle School and hybrid buses. Conservation education has been offered to students and staff alike.

Energy Saver

Green Product or Service – Captain Crunch Auto Wrecking: This auto wrecker expanded its business to include recycling metal, garden and construction waste and mattresses. They recycle more than 1,000 vehicles per year, but that is now about 30 per cent of the total business. It was the sheer scope and diversity of service they provide for homeowners and businesses alike that impressed the judges.

Green Product or Service

Water Saver – Barr Plastics: A family-run business has shown leadership in rainwater harvesting, providing both expertise and their product. Barr is developing ways for businesses, industry and homeowners to conserve water.

Water Saver

Green Project – Vedder Transportation: The commercial trucking company converted 50 trucks from diesel to run on liquefied natural gas. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the equivalent of taking 750 passenger vehicles off the road each year.

Green Project

Agri-link (local food) – Abbotsford Farm and Country Market: Gives the community opportunities to buy and sell local fresh agricultural products and processed foods made with local fruit and produce. Since 2004 it has grown to 30-50 vendors visited by 1,500 customers each market day.


Green leader – Neil James: Has had a long history of environmental protection. The president of Ralph’s Recycled Autoparts and chair of the B.C. Auto-recyclers Environmental Association served on a BC Environment Ministry committee in 1989, working on tire and battery recycling. He went on to lobby for stricter industry regulations for the automotive industry and steel and auto recyclers.

Green Leader

Van Dalfsen said Rotary felt it was time to give local people credit for their environmental conscience.

“There is a lack of awareness in the community, and we hope that by recognizing these winners and publicizing them, others will step up to the challenge.”