Kawartha Lakes adopts its first Healthy Environment Plan

By Lindsay Advocate

At the March 19 Committee of the Whole meeting, the Healthy Environment Plan was recommended to be adopted by Council. The Plan has been 18 months in the making, involving a 60-member working group and consultations with more than 2600 community members.

Council Champion Tracy Richardson kicked off the presentation by sharing that “the Healthy Environment Plan is a transformational plan that maps out high-level strategies for reducing greenhouse gasses over the next 10 years. It addresses changes in our growing seasons, droughts, flooding, impact of freeze-thaw cycles and warmer lake temperatures. This is a community plan; it was created with the community and will be carried out by all of us as we seek to cope with climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

Chris Marshall, Director of Development Services commented, “The Plan came together because of the involvement and enthusiasm of over 2600 community members. The working group included 40 organizations with a broad range of interests, including our Environmental Advisory Committee, Kawartha Conservation, Fleming College, Health Unit, School Boards, cottage associations, agricultural stakeholders and many others. I’d like to thank Denise Williams in the Kawartha Lakes’ Office of Strategy Management for her leadership of this project. She played a key role in coordinating the project and securing funding from Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the project.”

Marshall went on to note that the Healthy Environment Plan has been recognized for its innovation by the Ontario Professional Planners Institute. The Institute has asked Kawartha Lakes to present the Plan at their Annual General Meeting later this year.

The Plan includes both climate mitigation strategies and adaptation strategies. In order to protect people, maintain our infrastructure and be generally resilient as a community facing climate change, it is important to have a climate adaptation plan.

The first step was to establish a baseline on community and corporate (municipal) emissions. Corporate emissions account for only 1% of the total community emissions. It includes all municipal buildings, fleet, water and wastewater. The goal is to reduce community and corporate emissions by 20%. This is equal to a $144 million in energy savings that can be retained in the community.

Several strategies are outlined to increase our resiliency against climate change impacts including flooding, heat stress on people, native species crops and livestock, spread of pests and runoff impacting lakes and rivers.

The financial implications of the Plan will occur over the next 10 years as implementation plans and activities with partner organizations are confirmed. The Healthy Environment Plan will inform future master planning by providing climate mitigation and adaptation lenses in all aspects of municipal operations and community planning. The Plan will also inform future annual budgets, asset management plans and long-term financial plans.

The Healthy Environment Plan is available on the City website along with the executive summary. Council received a presentation with an overview of the method used to write the Plan and the vast community engagement that occurred to inform the strategies and actions.

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