‘A shifting landscape’: Wasaga Beach tackles climate issues in changing policy environment
From The Toronto Star, January 19, 2022
By Ian Adams
Wasaga Beach is taking steps to minimize its carbon footprint and mitigate the effects of climate change.
However, said chief building official Danny Rodgers, it is also doing so while recognizing its own “operational pressures as we try to adapt to what is a shifting landscape when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
A Jan. 13 presentation by Rodgers on climate change and how the municipality is addressing the issue coincided with a presentation earlier in the meeting by the Wasaga Beach Climate Action Team.
The volunteer group plans on raising issues in the community about climate change, including encouraging the municipality to undertake measures that mitigate the impact.
Council passed a resolution in May 2021, declaring a climate crisis and directing municipal staff to investigate any actions the town has undertaken with respect to mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
In December, council approved hiring an energy consultant to undertake an energy audit of municipal facilities to provide an inventory of current greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, along with the creation of a plan to reduce consumption and emissions.
That work is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2022.
Rodgers also highlighted several steps the town has already undertaken, including the introduction of an e-billing system for tax and utility bills that has reduced the municipality’s annual paper use by more than 48,000 sheets and 16,000 envelopes — about the equivalent of six standard pine trees.
The public works department has also taken on several projects to address increased and more severe rainfall events, including drainage and storm sewer improvements on a number of municipal roads, and in 2021 it updated its stormwater management and sewer design standards.
“It’s very much a part of what we do every day, and there are a lot of really exciting things happening in the arena of climate change,” he said.
Rodgers noted there are “constant changes” to legislation, notably building construction rules, as a result of climate change, adding that an extreme rain event one year, for example, could result in policy development.
At the municipal level, he said, “we are charged with understanding it, and making sure the new criteria is being adhered to.”
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