Earlier this year, the City of Orillia embarked on the development of a long-term Community Climate Change Action Plan or ‘CCCAP’. This important initiative will benefit everyone in Orillia, present and future. Balancing longer-term vision with ‘here and now’ action, the CCCAP’s overall objective is to chart a course for the municipality to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the community’s resilience to climate change. Along with a longer-term vision, the plan will identify priority strategies with the most potential to reduce Orillia’s carbon footprint over the next five years—providing focus for the City’s planning and investments in the battle against climate change.
Creating a CCCAP is not unique to Orillia. Many other Canadian cities have already undertaken similar projects, with Guelph and Victoria in the vanguard of this movement. Orillia’s timing is fortuitous as we can benefit from the lessons learned and shared by those pathfinders. Helping to bring this plan to life is a lively group of consultants, Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG), who in turn are leveraging the computer-based simulation-modelling talents of Whatif Technologies. SSG was selected for this role because of their experience and diverse portfolio of expertise. Anchored on a strong foundation of technical and environmental competencies, SSG also prioritizes engagement and communications, softer skills that connect with people regardless of where they are on the sustainability continuum and make climate change and what we need to do more meaningful across the community.
Input and representation from all corners of Orillia are critical to not only producing quality recommendations but also fostering ownership and buy-in for the changes that will inevitably have to be made. A Community Steering Committee has been established. This Committee has already met once, working with City Representatives and their consultants to begin defining what an emission-free future in Orillia could look like. Consultations have begun and there will be opportunities for all organizations and citizens to participate throughout the summer and into the fall. The experience of other cities underscores the importance of widespread representation.
Although Sustainable Orillia is active and represented on the Community Steering Committee, we encourage everyone who is interested to look for opportunities to get involved and make their voices heard.
The City of Orillia is in the process of releasing a communication on the initiative that will provide information on the project. It will highlight an invitation for the public to visit the City website for more information and to register their interest in participating in the consultation process.
The team members have set very aggressive timelines; they plan to table their recommendations for Council’s consideration as early as this fall. Stewardship for leading this initiative and developing recommendations for the plan rests with the City’s Manager of Property and Environmental Sustainability, Renee Recoskie, who has been the City of Orillia’s liaison with Sustainable Orillia from the organization’s outset. The broadening of Renee’s mandate and recent additions to her team underscore not only her leadership on behalf of Orillia’s citizens, but also the priority municipal officials are placing on the critical matter of climate change.
Sustainable Orillia is very pleased to play a role in this initiative. We view the CCCAP as crucial to strategically and collaboratively addressing climate change right here where we live and breathe. In addition to providing input, we will provide updates on Orillia’s CCCAP via our mailing list, our website and our social media as the project moves forward. So please stay tuned and get involved in shaping a sustainable future for you and your neighbours—and the generations to come—here in Orillia.