Urban Citizen

I have seen first-hand how great cities are created by engaged and active citizens – people who get involved to make their city a better place. Urban citizens are innovators, change makers, city builders. With two thirds of the world’s population estimated to be urban dwellers by 2050, we need to get cities right – for people, governments and budgets. More than 80% of Canadians already live in urban environments where there are endless opportunities and possibilities to grow smart, sustainable, and resilient cities.

 

Growth Plan 2017: accelerating the energy transition

This Ontario’s recently released four updated land use plans.  They will help accelerate the transition to low carbon communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The four reports include the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.  Coordination ensured the plans worked…

Local governments as social innovators

We need more local governments and utilities acting as social innovators in community energy planning and implementation. This is a brand new role for local governments in many ways. For most of their existence, local government in Canada has served as a vehicle to deliver provincial services.  That is why they are often called “creatures of…

Culture important to achieving low carbon communities

When legislation and good intentions meet culture, unintended consequences can occur.  As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast.  I would add: it snacks on legislation for lunch. Legislation: The province requires all Ontario municipalities to report annually on their corporate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  They must also approve a corporate energy…

Clarity in Community Energy Planning

Several of my colleagues expressed concern about Ontario’s Municipal Energy Plan program when it was announced.  Not about the funding to support municipal governments but the name of the program.  Would there be confusion surrounding the choice of the word “municipal” over “community”? However, as the practice of community energy planning continues to improve in…

Building energy efficiency: cities upping ante

I recently shared a post – 8 ways cities are upping the ante on building efficiency. Citing a World Resources Institute report, the author summarized eight actions for urban leaders to accelerate energy efficiency in their cities. It is a helpful summary although the examples of innovation are all international.  So, I thought I would…

Energy Transition: Role for Local Electricity Utilities

The energy transition in Ontario is picking up speed. Distributed power generation and storage growing The Electricity Distributors Association has just released a report – The Power to Connect: Advancing Customer-Drive Electricity Solutions for Ontario.  The report proposes a new way forward for Ontario’s electricity utilities as distributed energy resources including local, small-scale power generation and storage…

Home energy retrofits a climate change priority

Many governments in Canada are renewing their efforts to fight climate change.  As they do, the renovation of existing homes emerges as a priority.  Existing Canadian homes are a significant contributor to national emissions.  Governments at all levels are dusting off old retrofit programs and ramping up new ones. Renovation is also one of the least…

Growth Plan: You’re So Bad

The province is reviewing the Growth Plan for our region – the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This planned 10-year review is triggering a round of opposition that is ironically reminiscent of the debate that led to the Growth Plan in the first place. I was recently mystified by a comment suggesting the Growth Plan was making local governments greedy.…

For the love of a warm, cozy home

We pay too much to keep our homes warm and cozy on a cold winter’s day. Why? Because our homes were built to waste energy. That has been our practice for decades. Yes, it is changing.  New homes are less wasteful of energy.  They come with energy efficiency features already built in – from insulation to…

Acts of leadership: change the channel

Donald Trump does not believe in climate change.  Sadly, he won’t be the first or the last.  But, as a head of state in 2016, he is the last man standing.  At least for the time being.  And that is discouraging. While it might be harder than he thinks to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,…