Wellington County council is getting its first look at the estimated cost of implementing the climate plan it endorsed earlier this year.
Future Focused, the county’s climate mitigation plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 2017 levels by 2030. Key recommendations include the implementation of green development standards for new buildings, a transition to electric vehicles, continued work on developing circular food economies and a green energy retrofit program.
In a report to Thursday’s county planning committee meeting, climate change and sustainability manager Karen Chisholme lays out a plan for the first five-years of Future Focused’s work and cost estimates.
Total expenditures from 2022 to 2026 are estimated at $14.3 million dollars. Chisholme estimates $9.3 million can be recovered in grants, subsidies and other revenue for a net cost of $4.8 million.
“I think it’s a good start," committee chair, Erin mayor Allan Alls said of the report. “If we’re going to talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the talk and that means money no matter what we do.”
The work plan and cost estimates are “subject to change as new information, priorities and opportunities become available,” Chisholme notes in the report.
No spending on the priorities detailed in the five-year work plan has been approved yet. Funding for the plan's various initiatives will be considered during the county's annual budget meetings.
Chisholme divides work toward reducing emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change into six main areas. Of those, buildings, transportation and agriculture are devoted the most space in the five-year work plan.
For buildings, a green energy retrofit program, including financing, will be developed to encourage Wellington County homeowners to complete energy efficient upgrades on their properties. Building off that, later programs will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from other building types including commercial and industrial.
Green development standards will also be created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new developments. In terms of county-owned properties, the focus in the short term will on be improving the energy efficiency of social housing buildings.
In terms of transportation, immediate priorities are increasing the availability of electric vehicle chargers in the county and increasing electric vehicle adoption. Work with neighbouring municipalities to develop a regional EV charging network is already underway.
Looking at agriculture, the work plan notes the county has existing programs, one aimed at protecting rural water, another focused on tree planting, that support climate action on farms and rural properties.
“These programs will be reviewed for additional opportunities to support reducing greenhouse gases and sequestering carbon in rural landscapes,” Chisholme said, suggesting piloting pollinator plant growing and roadside tree planting as examples.
Partnership with Our Food Future on creating a circular food economy will also continue. There's also potential for the creation of a “living lab” where agricultural climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts could be studied.
Cost estimates for the five-year work plan include two new contract positions. One will focus on data management and community engagement, the other is a shared position with Our Food Future to focus on agriculture.