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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Grey County To Make Climate Action Plan

Grey County | by Claire McCormack  

County has budgeted $50K for initiative.

While Grey Highlands and Meaford are declaring climate crises, Grey County has hired a company to come up with a climate change action plan.

ICLEI Canada, is a Toronto based a consulting firm with offices in Quebec and Victoria.

They were created nearly 30 years ago as the ‘International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.’ ICLEI comes up with plans for governments, NGOs and businesses to create what they call on their website, "Sustainable, low-carbon, energy efficient, climate-ready communities."

Grey County Planner Hiba Hussain says the mindset behind the effort to develop a plan is, "How can we make ourselves more sustainable and be more climate aware?"

Grey County has $50,000 in its capital budget for the plan.

Hussain says ICLEI's work will also include measuring green house gas emissions to get an idea of the level of pollution within Grey County.

On a practical level, Hussain says climate change might affect County policies on things like land use designations, infrastructure development planning, or flood management.  She says the plan is unlikely to go into anything as detailed as restricting single-use plastics.

"I think for our area, flooding is one of the bigger issues just because we do have the bay, and looking at changes in weather...closures to our road infrastructure during big weather events, it's impactful, " syas Hussain.

Hussein says the County will work with the Conservation Authority in assessing water levels and outlining which areas in Grey's communities are most likely to be affected by level changes.

She points to a late October storm caused some flooding and road damage in Meaford, "The water levels in Geogian Bay were extremely high."

She says the plan is not something that will be imposed upon residents, towns or businesses, but focuses more on County practices or ways it might be a leader in sustainability, "How can we make our own infrastructure more efficient before asking others to do the same?"

She does note, it might include recommendations, "The County doesn't own any of the landfills or waste management sites or anything of that sort, so it's all about recommending what we think could be beneficial to municipalities."

The County is also using a work plan that was developed by University of Guelph students earlier this year.

The U of G report looked at a number of similar upper-tier municipalities like Kootenay BC, Waterloo Region and the County of Annapolis.

For example, it says Kootenay is prioritizing making public buildings and community amenities more energy efficient, using more electric cars, updated 'resource recovery' plans to add zero-waste strategies, (recycle and re-use) and to focus on keeping organic waste out of landfills. They also plan to monitor local emissions to set baseline rates followed by targets to reduce emissions.

Grey County hopes to have a draft plan by the end of 2020 with public input throughout the process.

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