submitted by Sustainable North Grenville
At Sustainable North Grenville, this 3-part exercise of exploring the history, the present, and now the possible future of our community has been a timely blend of reflection and pride in our community. Many who read this will be long-time residents who have been part of the growth and accomplishments made by the community. Newer members of the community, viewing the report card presented last week, might find it revealing. Let’s take a closer look at the 5 key areas identified as ‘Needs Work’ in the Environment theme, and frame them for local action.
Water protection initiatives:
Water protection action needs to be a priority, as water is the lifeblood of human and ecological communities. Initiatives such as the Council of Canadians Blue Community Designation sets the bar high for water protection and includes concerns about bottled water, privatization of water and sewage services. The Blue Dot movement is another global initiative that would strengthen the protection of our local environment. Joining with this recognized global movement would support the right of residents, to a healthy environment.
Becoming a Blue Community and Blue Dot movement are positive steps that NG could easily take. Being part of these grassroots initiatives sends a clear message to others across Canada and empowers NG to continue on a path of protection of land, air and water – acting locally but thinking globally.
Green space protection:
As the community grows, rural areas and green space are particularly at risk. Local expectations around land use, tree canopy protections, wetlands policy, and protection of our natural spaces should continue to be considered as part of any projects that threaten these spaces.
Solar/renewable energy and energy efficiency:
While we recognize that the idea of installing solar panels on municipal buildings has been explored in the past and could be undertaken at any time, a broader approach for NG may be best. With federal commitments to bring carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, we encourage municipal and community-led efforts that support measurable initiatives. Seeking efficiency is often the best return on investment, and we reported on some initiatives last week. Let’s leverage what we’ve started and look to renewable energy generation to meet our needs.
With the widening of CR43 coming, we have opportunity to address a frequent comment we hear at our SNG events and Fair – enable active transportation with bike lanes or multi-use paths. Dedicated and safer spaces for local travel and exercise are sorely missing and the time to start investing in these is while we’re growing and before it’s too late.
Additionally, the community now sees many electric vehicles and the capability of the latest models makes them ideal for replacing municipal or shared vehicles. With investment at the start, the savings on maintenance, operation, and longer warranties make them a prudent choice, while Ontario’s clean electricity grid will yield emissions savings over the lifespan of each EV.
Climate Mitigation and Sustainability Strategy:
NG has a unique blend of rural and developed areas. We’ve met thousands at our events and Sustainability Fairs – it’s clear that people are keen to safeguard what we have in this place we call home. We also recognize that North Grenville has a new and engaged Environmental Action Advisory Committee.
Reaching out to Mayor Nancy Peckford in a recent phone interview, we were heartened by her reaction:
“Thanks to the shared enthusiasm concerning sustainable community development and positive environmental action, momentum is building for sustainability issues. Going forward, we expect to see more progress in addressing the need for climate mitigation through the development of strategic initiatives at the municipality. These things take time, but we can get there.
The fact that we will likely experience more flooding and extreme weather events in the coming years, makes it imperative that we do everything we can to act as quickly as possible.”
Sustainable North Grenville calls upon our local Council to recognize that we’re in a climate crisis, and to commit to taking immediate action now to prepare our community and its residents for the future.
We would like to close this 3-part series with our heartfelt thanks to the community of North Grenville, for your support and enthusiasm. Visit us at http://www.sustainablenorthgrenville.ca/ or check us out on Facebook.