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Town of Erin eyes a greener future

Erin is looking to the future and what can be done to help combat climate change
GuelphToday file photo

A plan has been developed to combat climate change at a local level.

Erin council tuned in to a delegation from the County of Wellington to learn more about the climate change mitigation plan last week.

“Erin is embarking on growth activities where we will be adding a couple of thousand units of new buildings in our strategy for the town,” said Coun. Michael Robins. “We have described ourselves as environmentally progressive, and we would like to position ourselves as attractive to young families who are also aligned with a green outlook.”

The county will transition to electric vehicles, retrofit buildings, implement the solid waste services strategy, and have producers work with Smart Cities to develop innovative approaches to apply circular economy principles.

Robins wanted to know how quickly they can get the green standards developed and help them grow and execute them.

“It is voluntarily or incentivized to get developers to go beyond the building code, and so we need to look at locally what is going to resonate and get developers to start implementing these measures that are outside the building code," said Karen Chisholme, climate change co-ordinator.

“It may be we develop a green development standard that is applied universally through the county of Wellington, or it may be that it is not appropriate, and we can set up a framework so each municipality can tailor them to their circumstances.”

A green home energy retrofit program is in development in partnership with the City of Guelph and in talks with Waterloo Region to develop a delivery program to support homeowners and expand financing options for them.

They are also involved in the regional electric vehicle charging network plan, scheduled to be completed in 2022. This is in partnership with Wellington, Guelph, Dufferin, Perth, Huron, Grey and Bruce counties.

Coun. John Brennan wondered if it’s similar to the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) broadband expansion project for enhanced internet connectivity. Brennan said it depended on vendors getting grants from various government levels to complete the work.

“The regional electric vehicle (EV) charging network came out of the struggle we had to get funding grants to put in chargers,” said Chisholme. “We also recognize municipalities may not be in the best position to own and operate charging stations. I keep saying we don’t own gas stations, so why are we owning charging stations?”

The project will look at the network across the proposed coverage area to find out where to place charging stations. They hope this will help other levels of government to grant funding.

“We’ll develop this map, and from there, we hope we can go, as a group or individually as a municipality, to various funding sources,” said Chisholme. “Having this map in place will be a powerful tool to say we need this network if we want to transition to EVs.”

The county has a draft request for approvals and applications to submit to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to fund the plan's development. They hope to send it in by the end of April. It would then take some time for FCM staff to review the paperwork, and if approved, they hope to start the groundwork this September and run until March 2022.

The report states an increase in temperature and precipitation will affect infrastructure, agriculture, the environment and recreational facilities.

Roads will be washed out, crops will produce a lower yield, ice will thrash trees, and residents won’t be able to skate outdoors or ski.

Greenhouse gas emissions are produced from buildings consuming electricity, gas-guzzling cars, solid waste-producing methane, and enteric fermentation in agriculture.

Canada plans to be at net-zero emissions by 2050, and is involved in the Paris agreement to commit to a 30 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.