the Record Article

Waterloo Region will help stop climate change 
Danielle Laperriere
As appeared in the June 27, 2016 print edition of the Record 

An estimated $8.3 billion dollar price tag will no doubt leave anyone with sticker shock, but what does Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan mean for those who live, work, study and play in Waterloo Region?

You may recall in late 2013, the City Councils of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, as well as Regional Council, unanimously endorsed our own Climate Action Plan and committed to a community Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction target of 6% below 2010 levels by 2020.

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan goes farther, laying the foundation for short, medium and long term GHG reductions of 15%, 37% and 80% by 2020, 2030 and 2050, respectively.

Although the two plans have different timelines and targets, the key messages are the same: how we move people and goods, and the way we manage energy at work and at home, contribute to the majority of our carbon footprint – but we can change that and thrive in the process.

Our local plan lays out quantifiable benefits for having a local Climate Action Plan: $350 million in value added to the local economy, the generation of almost 5,400 person years of employment and savings to the tune of $21 million for local households and businesses. Not to mention those intangible benefits of fewer smog days and improved public health as we shift to more active forms of transportation.

We are already leading the way with homegrown projects and programs:

  • Our community Climate Action Plan sets a target to support the adoption of 1,000 electric vehicles across the region by 2020; the Province’s plan is 14,000 EVs province wide by 2020.
  • The Province lists electric-vehicle-ready homes and workplaces as a priority for action for land use planning – the City of Kitchener has proposed by-laws that set out minimum electric vehicle or electric vehicle-ready parking spaces on all commercial facilities and multi-unit apartments.
  • TravelWise is a Transportation Management Association in our region that provides tools and services to help employers find commuting solutions and reduce the number of employees driving alone to work. Included in the provincial plan are grants for large employers to reduce the number of single-passenger vehicle trips, which could see an uptake of membership with TravelWise.
  • Sustainable Waterloo Region’s flagship program, the Regional Carbon Initiative, supports its members to implement cost-effective emission reduction projects including the installation of anti-idling technologies in fleets – an initiative the Province may support under their new Green Commercial Vehicle Program.
  • A Home Energy Rating and Disclosure program was listed as a program in the Province’s plan, which would require an energy audit and associated rating at time of sale for homes. REEP Green Solutions has been providing energy audits to homeowners in our community for 17 years and such a program would be a natural extension of their service offerings.

This provincial plan will provide our community with supports for actions that our community is already putting in place. Moreover, when you situate an $8.3 billion dollar investment over 5 years within the context of a $1 trillion global opportunity known as ‘Cleantech’, this plan is about more than infrastructure investment; it is about securing our stake in this rapidly expanding industry.

With our own community Climate Action Plan acting as a direction for our collective efforts, and the Provincial Action Plan in place to support us, Waterloo Region is poised to further our sustainability efforts and together contribute to meeting our reduction target by 2020, while supporting our growing local Cleantech sector.

Learn more about Waterloo Region's Community Climate Action Plan here: www.climateactionwr.ca