By Joanne Rodgers,
Bruce Peninsula Press
Eight community volunteers of the Climate Action Committee are currently developing a framework to help the municipality respond to climate change. Committee Chair Mike Campbell says “One of my goals for the committee is to come up with a plainly worded Action Plan that everyone in the community can understand and buy into. All communities no matter how small, need to work together to address Climate Change. The goal of our committee is to assist the municipality in coming up with a realistic strategy to adapt to climate change and reduce its production of GreenHouse Gases and thereby do its part in combating climate change.”
Committee formed to advise Council
In the fall of 2019 students from the Bruce Peninsula District School asked the Council of Northern Bruce to declare a Climate Change Emergency and requested that a Climate Action Committee be formed. During the presentation the students said it was their future that was at risk and that they plan to hold their elected officials accountable.
The Council agreed to create a Climate Action Committee. The Council has since gone on to pass the motion to join the Partners for Climate Protection program. This is a national network of over 350 municipalities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and act on climate change.
The Committee comprises members of diverse skill sets; they are Mike Campbell, Rod Layman, Glen Estill, Arlene Kennedy, Barbara Reuber, Terri Munn, Brian McHattie as Parks Canada Liaison, and Megan Myles as the Council Liaison.
“One of the things that people don’t think about when it comes to climate change, is there is no turning back the clock. The Carbon Dioxide that is in the atmosphere now will always be there and the changes to our climate we are experiencing now, cannot be rolled back by any action we take. Our goal as a society should be to reduce greenhouse gases as quickly as we can so that we can slow and eventually halt further negative aspects of climate change “ says Campbell.
Using the Municipal Climate Change emergency declaration as a stepping stone, the committee will work on Municipal endeavours. Initially, they will conduct a fact finding activity to determine such things as municipal carbon emissions, funding opportunities, education needs and community partnerships.
One of the main tasks will be to determine cost effective actions for municipality assets that will reduce fossil fuel use, thus leading to fewer carbon emissions.
The Northern Bruce committee will join the ranks of many committees across the province and the nation to tackle climate change in a fiscally responsible manner.
Potential Funding Opportunities
Recognising that for Canada to meet its net-zero emission target by 2050, federal monies may become available to advance this goal; as such the Committee aims to be proactive and collect pertinent information, which in turn will support the Municipality’s ability to apply for grants whenever such funding becomes available. The Committee is also investigating potential funding opportunities from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). The FCM offers funding towards the cost of a study on how to retrofit buildings and facilities to reduce greenhouse gases and improve energy efficiency.
Committee to focus on Municipal assets
The Committee will assist Municipal staff in evaluating opportunities for carbon emission reduction; primarily looking at Municipal assets such as buildings, equipment and vehicles.
A Carbon Inventory will be conducted to identify the emitters and then determine on a case by case basis on what can be done to reduce the carbon emissions. Committee Member Rod Layman says some might be straightforward, like a new heating system or more insulation or electric vehicle replacement, others may not be so easy to remedy.
Committee actionable elements
The Committee hopes to present the Municipality with a framework to identify their carbon emissions and provide them with tools to develop a carbon budget and allow them to evaluate their activities to meet the carbon reduction goals.
Member Terri Munn sees the Committee’s role as being one of an educator, assisting the Municipal Council and Staff in determining the carbon emitters and coming up with mitigation opportunities. She says “From my point of view, I’m very pleased we are now tackling Climate Change from a proactive stance rather than a reactive one. I think we want to land on the right side of history both by being responsive to the needs of mitigation and by being fiscally responsible. Employing mitigation actions will pay off immediately and long into the future.”
The key is to highlight to the municipality the benefits of energy saving efforts, reducing emissions and saving costs. Also, the Committee will help the Municipality to create an overall plan to adapt to Climate Change.
The Committee will also seek collaborative ventures with other interested organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Grey Bruce Health Unit, County of Bruce, Saugeen Ojibway Nation and Parks Canada.
Other local entities are also working towards ventures to tackle carbon emissions. One initiative is by two environmental groups considering a plan to install electric charging stations and encourage greater use of electric vehicles. Another is a local businessman investigating the viability of a shuttle bus for tourists.