Sustainable Orillia Workshop Outcomes

By Gord Ball – Special to SUNonline/Orillia

Former mayor Steve Clarke welcomed area residents to the Quality Inn last Sunday for the third and final community engagement workshop hosted by Sustainable Orillia. The purpose of the series was to emerge with a vision, guiding principles and concrete initiatives to help Orillia become a sustainable, happy place to live and work, for generations to come.

The workshop reviewed the collectively-created vision statement and guiding principles developed at the earlier events.

What’s the vision? “Our community sustains both people and the planet in harmony with nature for generations.”

 Strategies to support the vision include

  • relying on locally grown and owned fresh food,
  • protecting and restoring our natural environment,
  • embracing infrastructure for walking, cycling, public transit and zero-emission vehicles,
  • optimizing energy conservation and renewable sources,
  • adopting green building standards and transitioning away from natural gas,
  • maximizing social interactions and economic activity while minimizing environmental impact,
  • creating an integrated community where infrastructure fosters social connection and environmental stewardship,
  • transitioning toward a circular, green economy that prioritizes sustainable purchasing, repair and reuse.

Here is a small sampling of the many tactics, programs and projects generated in workshops 2 and 3 to support the vision:

  • advocate for local farms
  • become a hydrogen energy hub
  • create a co-op refillery store
  • celebrate successes; acknowledge and reward green employers
  • offer incentives for developers to build energy-efficient affordable housing,
  • create highly visible demonstration projects such as a maximally energy-efficient model house or a small-scale vertical wind turbine exhibited at the (windy) Orillia Recreation Centre
  • develop a concierge support service to help good sustainability projects get started.

Participants encouraged Sustainable Orillia to support initiatives that will drive action and create buzz, focusing on a few achievable projects with the potential to make a difference, and to scale up and to expand awareness and support. These new initiatives will add to the list of SO’s successes to date, such as the annual Electric Vehicle Show, the Bike Challenge and the annual Student Art Contest and calendar.

Recognizing there are endless opportunities to make Orillia more sustainable, participants agreed building partnerships with other like-minded organizations and individuals will be critical to success.

Steve Clarke closed the meeting with a message of confidence that Orillia will rise to the challenges. He expressed gratitude for the many individuals who are making good things happen to advance the sustainability of our area and our lives, and encouraged all Orillians to join the action.

Sustainable Orillia will be sharing the outcomes of this work more specifically among various audiences in our community with the goal of turning the Sunshine City into a model of how to become a green community for the rest of Canada to emulate.

These workshops help us get started, but there is much to do. If you are interested in becoming involved in one of the many projects identified at the workshop series, we would love to have you join us.

(Images Supplied) Main: Steve Clarke addresses participants at Sustainable Orillia’s community engagement workshop.


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