Council Preview: Special Meeting

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets Friday at 9 a.m. to get a report from the environment and infrastructure services department on the climate change action plan. Consultants Yuill Herbert and Naomi Devine of Sustainability Solutions Group will be on hand to present findings of investigations made into how the municipality, and to some extent the broader community, uses energy and emits greenhouse gasses.

Included are some projections of how things might transpire if nothing changes, and what is predicted to happen if changes are made.

For example, one of the areas of change the City can make and have a direct effect is with public transportation. Already the City is looking at electric busses as fleet replacements are made, and the planned transit terminal which is in the design phase will include power supply and charging capabilities for an electric bus fleet and electric vehicle charging in the public parking area.

Another area the city might make a dent in is new construction by requiring a range of considerations for new home and commercial development to make buildings more energy efficient.

The action recommend in the report is to receive, which usually indicates staff are recommending doing nothing, but not in this case. The report is a textbook example of technical information written with acronyms and initialisms that need decoding, which means many people will get lost by the second paragraph. Councilors have a steep learning curve to navigate in order to make reasonable decisions and the 67 page report likely needs some translating at this meeting. It might be of benefit future reports are written is such a way average people not familiar with the jargon can understand quickly.

As such, the report lays the groundwork for staff to come back to council with specific projects and costs/return on investment analysis to act on. Staff indicate a high end estimate of investment required for a number of projects might be $53 million to achieve net zero emissions. Net Zero means either emitting no greenhouse gases, or doing things to offset emissions like planting trees or using technologies to capture carbon before it is released into the air.

The City already has a few projects underway. Upgrading street lights to LEDs started in 2020, upgrading lighting in municipal buildings to LED and installing solar panels on two recreation facilities. In the 2022 budget, council approved money to do an audit of municipal buildings in order to plan retrofits, install charging stations for vehicles at the operations center, do a feasibility study for a community energy efficiency financing program (like the grant program for downtown business improvements) and will install solar panels on the Orillia Recreation Centre if a grant application gets approved.

You can watch the meeting on the City’s Youtube channel live at 9 a.m.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


Support Independent Journalism