Three years since its adoption, the District of Muskoka says its climate change actions have shown success.
In a presentation made to the Community and Planning Services Committee it was reported that of 112 pledged climate change actions 34 are classified as complete with a further 51 classified as in progress with 27 yet to begin. The presentation was made by Climate Initiatives Coordinator Lauren Valliere who stated that continuing to take climate action is necessary for the district.
“We can’t afford to wait another year to drive action,” Valliere said.
District climate action falls under the New Leaf Climate Strategy which is a policy guiding Muskoka’s response to climate change. This strategy has six key components: A Muskoka Climate Change Action Plan (MCCAP), a Corporate Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Initiative, a Community Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Outreach and Education, Partnerships and Funding.
The largest component of this strategy is the MCCAP. It has five pillars including: natural environment, governance, economy, infrastructure and community. The MCCAP and larger strategy were adopted by the District Council in December 2020 and a presentation was made to council recapping results after three years.
The report highlighted several of the actions the plan has enacted. The first full year of operation of the solar farm at Golden Pheasant Wastewater Treatment Plant the solar farm generated almost 350,000 kilowatt hours, offsetting 43% of the treatment plant’s total energy usage.
A Muskoka Regional Climate Adaptation Plan which supports municipalities climate resiliency. Integrated watershed management of technical projects including floodplain mapping. Open grade paving allows ashfault to be more permeable, leading to reduced impacts of freeze and thaw cycles. And finally, an energy affordability program which installs energy efficiency upgrades at the District’s community housing units. Mcvitie Place on Pine Street in Bracebridge will be used as a pilot project for the plan.
The success of the Golden Pheasant solar farm raised questions from committee members regarding more solar projects in the future. District staff stated that changes in provincial funding models and power regulations have made solar projects less financially viable from a business perspective. District Chair Jeff Lehman stated that even if future solar farms are not money-making enterprises, they are valuable because of emissions savings.
“There are substantial emission savings, and therefore, it can make a major contribution,” Lehman said.
District climate action has received significant funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipalities Fund, the provincial government and several other smaller sources.
In 2024 staff are expected to provide updates on the energy reduction plan, municipal fleet decarbonization and further climate action financing options for future projects.
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