Here are the responses I made to a recent questionnaire sent to all candidates from the Climate Action Team, a registered charitable organization formed in 2019 “to work with local communities to reduce our carbon footprint.” They also note they have a mailing list of “450+ local residents and growing.” My responses are in italics following the questions:
A. On Oct. 16, 2019, Collingwood Council unanimously passed a motion declaring a climate crisis in order to ‘name and deepen our commitment to protecting our economy, our community, and our eco systems…’recognizing that ‘municipalities will bear the burden of much of the financial associated with climate change…’ and directed staff to ‘communicate and investigate actions that are being and can be undertaken within our municipal mandate and the resources required to put such actions in place in an effort to combat climate change..’
B. Which actions to address the climate crisis do you feel are the most important ones taken by Collingwood thus far?
- Hiring Nicole Yardy, the climate change specialist for the Town of Collingwood so there is a dedicated staff person to focus on and present the issues so council can develop effective policies to mitigate climate change;
- Completing the first part of the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program (collecting data and developing an inventory of corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions);
- Starting the process to develop a fulsome tree planting and urban-canopy preservation policy.
C. What actions do you feel are important to take during the next term of Council to both mitigate and adapt to climate change?
- Continuing to monitor and reduce GHG emissions; more municipal tree planting, a fully-realized policy to preserve and enhance the urban canopy, enhancing public transit systems to encourage use, and exploration of alternate energy generation for municipal facilities and infrastructure.
D. Collingwood’s 2020-2023 Community Based Strategic Plan includes ‘Enhance Community Well-Being and Sustainability’ as one of its Goals and ‘Preserve the Town’s Environment and Take Action on Climate Change’ as one of its objectives.
What does ‘Sustainability’’ mean to you?
- Avoiding depleting natural and environmental resources; development that does not put excessive pressures on resources and land; policies that promote environmental preservation and reducing demand on individual vehicles, encouraging development that uses environmentally-positive designs and technologies.
E. Collingwood’s population will grow substantially over the next 20 years. We currently have an affordable housing deficit. How do we accommodate this growth while still Preserving the Town’s Environment and Taking Action on Climate Change?
- Not taking cash-in-lieu from developers but requiring every development to have greenspace-parkland and trail access;
- Requiring developers to place trees on all new properties and replacing any trees removed in the building process (if not on the property then a cash payment for the town to place one on a boulevard or in a park);
- The town could consider buying and retaining any remaining EP or environmentally-sensitive lands to preserve them from development;
- Promoting mixed-use (inclusive) development to reduce vehicular travel for some shopping and similar needs;
- Making public transit more accessible and free, to encourage its use;
- Partnering with developers to create “tiny-home” developments that offer low-impact but attainable housing opportunities.
F. We have had the chance to tell you a little about our organization and would like you to have the same opportunity. What else would you like voters to know about you? Please share your views or experiences regarding environmental issues or anything else you feel is important.
- I served on the Greening of Collingwood committee in the 1990s, as well as on the Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee (RAP-PAC) for delisting the harbour as an area of concern.
- When I was a councillor 2010-14, I pressed the town to develop a tree preservation and planting policy. When I was on council in 2006-10 I pushed for the town to purchase the Silver Creek wetlands to preserve it for a conservation.
- I served on the South-Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe Source Water Protection board for four years, until 2020.
- As director of communications for the Ontario Municipal Water Association, I produced a weekly newsletter for members about water-related issues, including conservation programs and the effects of climate change on water resources.
- As a member of the library board in the early 2000s, I pushed to have a green roof and geothermal pump installed in the new library building (both were done).
- When I ran for Deputy Mayor in 2018, climate change was a top priority in my campaign.
- We have a filter on our washing machine to trap microplastics and are participating in the current test with the Environment Network.
- In our own home, we use minimal power and water; we dry laundry outside on a line; we keep the (digital) thermostat low, and removed the grass on our property to have a low-impact garden instead.
- I currently serve on the board of a not-for-profit long-term care facility working through plans to develop and build a new, expanded facility that meets modern design and technological standards that are environmentally sensitive.