Mississauga Set to Consider Ambitious Multi-Million Dollar Climate Change Plan

 

Mississauga is, for the most part, an ambitious city unafraid of change (it is moving forward on two major waterfront projects, but hesitating on the private cannabis store file, for example).

It's also not one to make light of environmental issues and has even gone so far as to declare a climate change emergency.

In fact, the city recently made a commitment to take action on climate change and directed city staff to develop and bring forward a climate change action plan to council for approval by the end of 2019.

“Mississauga is working to become climate change leaders, and we’re proud to be reaffirming our commitment by joining cities across the country in declaring a climate change emergency. This city will not sit back idly as climate change affects our city, whether that’s extreme weather, flooding, impacts to air quality or plastic pollution in our waterways," Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a recent statement. 

Now, the city has outlined some ambitious but costly measures (implementing the plan could cost up to or even over $450 million) it could potentially take in its draft Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP).

The plan proposes a greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 80 per cent by 2050, along with changes to building codes and more infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. 

"Around the world, there is scientific consensus that our climate is changing. A recent report on climate change from Natural Resources Canada (2019) shows that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Approximately two-thirds of the world's carbon emissions are tied to activities occurring in cities and urban areas and cities are at the forefront of facing the increasing cost of adapting to the impacts of extreme weather caused by climate change," the CCAP reads.

The report says the city has experienced an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, including heavy rainfall, ice storms, and some of the hottest summers on record. The report also says climate change is costing residents, adding that in 2018, insured damage for severe weather events across Canada reached $1.9 billion. 

The CCAP focuses on both mitigation and adaptation and recommends actions for both the city and the community over the next ten years.

One of the key goals of the plan is to promote green culture and "transform Mississauga into a net-zero carbon city to become a leader in green initiatives by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

As this is a ten-year plan, an interim GHG reduction target of 40 per cent by 2030 has also been set.

The report says that based on the analysis completed in partnership with Siemens, Mississauga can achieve its target with existing technology. However significant action (on both the city and resident side) will be needed to achieve this goal.

To reach the target, the city would have to convert the entire corporate and transit fleet (and equipment) to zero emissions, such as by switching to electric and/or hydrogen technology. 

It would also need to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure; install renewable energy (such as solar panels) at municipal buildings; retrofit all municipal buildings to be net-zero or near net-zero, and ensure that all new corporate buildings are built to net-zero or near net-zero standards.

The city would also have to encourage residents to transition to walking or cycling instead of driving for 50 per cent of trips to, from, and within Mississauga, with transit used for 23 per cent of trips.

The city would also need to increase the amount of rooftop solar PV in the city by 10 per cent and support the shift to zero-emissions transportation by providing publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the city.

The report says Mississauga would also need to encourage developer-led efforts to include low carbon energy systems in new developments and explore the feasibility of a district energy system for the downtown.

It would also need to introduce new legal and policy tools, including bylaws, to require climate change measures in new developments and encourage building occupants and owners to implement energy conservation and resilience measures, such as heat pumps.

The report also says the city would need to increase total tree canopy cover to 22 per cent (of total area) and plant one million trees by 2032.

Some of the tasks don't appear particularly daunting. 

The report says Mississauga would need to install 20 publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city; explore the feasibility of a bike-share program in Mississauga; and upgrade and expand cycling, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure and networks.

The report does warn that implementing the plan, should council approve it, will be costly. 

According to estimates based on current technology and cost premiums, more than $450 million in capital funding will be required over the next decade to implement the plan, which is not currently contained in the ten-year capital forecast.

The city is asking the public to weigh in on the plan at a series of events.

Anyone who wants to have their say can attend the following open houses:

Open House 1
Wednesday, October 2
7 to 9 p.m.
Meadowvale Community Centre, Upper lobby
6655 Glen Erin Dr.

Open House 2
Tuesday, October 8
3 to 7 p.m.
University of Toronto Mississauga, Instructional Building Atrium
1599 Outer Cir. Rd.

Open House 3
Thursday, October 10
7 to 9 p.m.
Mississauga Valley Community Centre, L.C. Taylor Auditorium
1275 Mississauga Valley Blvd.

Do you think the city should implement the plan?

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