Local legacy makers

May 8, 2018

National CEPs

Sustainability transitions are not easy. They are disruptive, by nature. So, when you try to accelerate them, regardless how noble your intentions, it puts a target on your back. People like things the way they are, even when it is not good for them. That is why there are particles of plastic in ninety percent of some of world’s popular brands of bottled water and why more and more people are feeling the wrath of extreme weather events.

Skepticism protects us from scammers at the door, but it also enables the status quo to cling to life.

I have been part of accelerating sustainability transitions at a community level for many years – in areas like waste and water management, natural heritage protection, urban form and local energy. It takes several attempts, from multiple directions, to have an impact. First attempts are rarely successful. It often takes a second or a third or a fourth pass at making change even a small change. Sometimes, it is hard to connect the dots between your efforts and outcomes. Much of the hard work goes unseen, by many. One day, we fill wetlands, then we don’t, but there are scores of unsung heroes behind such achievements.

So, big congratulations to the community members who comprise Our Energy Guelph for moving community energy planning in Guelph to the next phase. Their updated plan was resoundingly approved by Guelph City Council. What a difference a few years makes. 

A little over a decade ago, a similar group of community leaders came together to change Guelph's energy future. While Our Energy Guelph has a much catchier name, both groups of visionaries have shared an equal measure of passion for building a green and resilient energy future. If the planning is hard, implementation is wickedly challenging, so I wish them well. 

With so many local governments engaged in community energy planning across Canada today, each contributing to a growing Canadian legacy, we better positioned than ever to achieve our vision thanks to the hundreds of people who are leading change. While there are always a few gnarly holdouts, most people can no longer deny the energy transition underway.

Now, we can turn our attention to ensuring the benefits are equitably shared within our communities.