Themes:

Barriers to e-vehicle charging stations

February 2, 2016

I often get asked to do interviews on a variety of topics related to cities. The most recent interview was about potential barriers to increasing the number of charging stations for electric vehicles in municipalities.  I bet there will be some. With announcement that the Ontario government will provide $20 million in grants this year to help create a network of...

Where's the climate change action?

January 30, 2016

At the current rate, Canada is not going to meet its climate goals – goals that fall far short of what the science says we need to protect us from the devastating impacts of climate change. The National Energy Board projects fossil fuel consumption in Canada will rise by 22 percent over the next 25 years resulting in higher greenhouse...

Boom-bust city building

January 22, 2016

We are an urban nation so city building is a big part of nation building. When the resource economy is in trouble, we become diligent city builders.  When the resource economy is thriving, not so much. The Prime Minister has signaled that we can expect an accelerated infrastructure stimulus program.  The Bank of Canada has hinted that a bigger-than-expected deficit would be...

Emerging energy professionals

January 4, 2016

I taught my first class today on Community, Energy and Planning.  I am feeling lucky to have this opportunity to spend time with emerging energy professionals as they embark on their careers and follow their passion to build a more sustainable future. Graduate students in the Masters of Environmental Studies and Planning programs at York University are enrolled in the class. It is an...

The Paris Agreement: what's next?

January 2, 2016

One hundred and ninety countries have reached consensus on The Paris Agreement.  The goal is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  Canada was proudly among them. So what’s next? Now the reality of living up to our international commitments will test all of us.  Time is of the essence. What will you do to take some carbon out of your life?  Local organizations like...

Great time to refresh community energy strategy

December 7, 2015

I am in the last stretches of completing a review Guelph community energy strategy and much has changed over its 10 year history. In the beginning, we put our focus on energy to create a big tent to engage as many people as possible.  This opened the door to talk with some, although not all, of the doubters.  Even doubters are...

Sober thoughts contemplating climate change

December 4, 2015

The opinion columns I have been reading recently about climate change have been sobering but for new reasons. I used to find them sobering because they too often included a nod to the skeptics.  They always seemed to be hedging their bets.  It felt like they had to wait to see where the winds of public opinion would turn before making a...

Climate talks set expectations high

December 3, 2015

It would be easy to be skeptical of the climate talks underway in Paris given past experience. It might also be too easy as a Canadian to set our expectations too high and think everything will be sorted out for us.  I admit this is a nice feeling for a change but sadly not realistic. As Canadians, we use fossil fuels...

Local Government and the Green economy

November 7, 2015

There were many insights shared at the Green Economy: Ontario conference about the opportunities for green innovation in several sectors with energy, water, transportation and big data particularly noted. I was struck by how many themes had some interface with local governments – either directly or indirectly – and I was able to provide some examples of how local governments...

Green economy

November 4, 2015

I am preparing for a panel at the Green Economy: Ontario conference.  My session is on how public policy can drive green economic growth. The good news is there are lots of examples and opportunities. Guelph has a good story to tell in driving water innovation and it begins with two unique conditions. Guelph is one of a few Canadian cities that rely...

Climate literacy

November 4, 2015

In the last few weeks, I have heard the topic of climate literacy raised several times  – the pressing need to persistently connect the dots between our day-to-day experiences and choices – in our homes, workplaces and communities – and global events. Only a few days ago Hurricane Patricia hit the coast of Mexico.  It was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded...

Lower the noise on climate change

November 1, 2015

Sometimes simple things can make a difference. There is a strong relationship between where and how we live and our impact on the climate. This brings the focus on our communities – big and  small. I have appreciated being engaged recently in discussions considering what policies would best support local action on climate change. One that I like is very simple: include language in the Ontario Municipal Act...

Time to get it on climate change

October 31, 2015

I spent a good part of last week surrounded by Canadian energy leaders from all sectors who get it.  Sanity-restored. Minister Glen Murray opened up the QUEST conference with an unequivocal message of urgency – of the consequences for us if we don’t act now and definitively on climate change. Usually such honest messages receive criticism for fear it will make people feel hopeless....

What's the question?

October 19, 2015

So I lied in my last blog post.  There is something new that directors of non-profit organizations can do to add value during disruptive times. Directors are concerned with fulfilling their fiduciary and strategic roles.  These are still essential to good governance.  During times of change, it is also important to help generate new ideas and ways of thinking about a...

Governing during disruptive times

October 17, 2015

I must admit that I am fascinated with our transition from the industrial to digital age so I was both pleased and intrigued to be invited to speak this Wednesday about its implications for governance in the nonprofit sector. The latest technology always tends to steal the show  – it was the wonders of the steam engine during the industrial revolution and today...

Closing the gap for climate change

October 5, 2015

At the turn of the last century, people died of cholera in Guelph.  The loss of homes to fire was common. To protect public health and fight fires, the politicians of the day got into the water business to the hue and cry of local ratepayers. I have a friend who remembers her father taking their garbage in a wheel...

Invisible wasted energy

September 29, 2015

Our homes waste a lot of energy.  That hurts our pocket books.  It also hurts the environment. The first principle of a Smart Energy Community is conservation and efficiency – “if you don’t need it, don’t use it”.  The problem is that you can’t see wasted energy – not like a leaky faucet. To address this problem, a start-up company...

Places to Grow - 10 years later

September 28, 2015

I was interviewed last week for a documentary on the 10th anniversary of provincial Places to Grow legislation. Many communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe had been expressing their aspiration to grow in a more compact and sustainable way but it wasn’t until Places to Grow and the Growth Strategy came into effect they were given the planning tools to...

The invisibility of good public policy

September 23, 2015

When Lee Picolli of Fusion Homes sent me this photo to show that ground had been broken on their Metal Works project, I was very happy for him and his team.  I know there was a lot of effort to reach this milestone. I was also reminded of the invisibility of public policy – public policy which in this case created the...

Sustainability goes beyond green

September 21, 2015

I am always interested in projects that take a broad view of sustainability because it not only means healthier and more vibrant communities, it promotes more creative thinking. Blatchford is being billed by Edmonton as the world’s largest sustainable community.  The vision for the 217-hectare site will take 20 to 30 years to build and will house 30,000 people.  The goal...