About Sustainable Orillia

Mayor’s Task Force – Sustainable Orillia

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew” Marshall McLuhan


Imagine a future trip to a galaxy far, far away. For the passengers to survive the spaceship environment must be sustainable i.e. must have a balanced ecosystem in which demand=supply. Throughout the decades of the trip preceding generations must ensure sustainability for successive ones.

In contrast, our current Spaceship Earth has an unbalanced ecosystem. * Insufficient action toward sustainability by national and state governments, are resulting in citizens in many parts of the world taking local action.(*Canada ranks 7th worst based on Global Footprint Analysis

Why Sustainable Orillia

Because the world’s national and state level sustainability plans are currently insufficient and inconsistent and this is a collective problem that demands collective solutions, local initiatives are necessary. With the Mayor’s encouragement, many concerned individuals and groups within our community have consolidated their efforts, working to develop the concepts, strategies and plans for a  “made in Orillia” grass roots movement under the banner of Sustainable Orillia.   Sustainable Orillia is our local response to mitigating adverse changes to our community.


Engage the Community in actions that build more rewarding and healthy lives for the people of Orillia, our children and grandchildren.


The community is conscientious, responsible, engaged and energized. Citizens, businesses and institutions are taking action personally, collectively and publicly to set and reach specific and measurable targets that avoid placing a burden on future generations and the natural environment.  The transition to a more sustainable way of life has become an integral part of our lifestyle.

Sustainability, Outcomes and Strategies

Because the world’s national and state level sustainability plans are currently insufficient and inconsistent and this is a collective problem that demands collective solutions, local initiatives are necessary.  Sustainable Orillia is our local response.

Definition of “Sustainability”

Sustainability needs to be defined and everyone has a different focus. We view Sustainability as a resource supply-demand issue but within a socio-economic-environmental context.

Our working definition of “sustainability” is meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability, in this sense, suggests that human communities must be designed and realigned so that humanity’s “way of life, technologies, and social institutions honour, support, and cooperate with nature’s ability to sustain life” (Capra, 1999).


It is our believe that we can facilitate a sustainability program for Orillia, building on the corporate plan, the emerging strategic plan and previous environmental achievements under the City Council umbrella that will contribute to:

  • A more sustainable way of life that has become an integral part of our lifestyle.
  • New economic opportunities
  • An improved physical environment – land, water and air
  • More effective food production, transport and utilization
  • Improve life for all, both physical and mental
  • Ensure that the lives of our children and ensuing generations are lived in a world that is not worse than ours and working towards being better
  • Development of  Sustainability Orillia as a learning, leadership and collaboration hub


To achieve the Outcomes, Sustainable Orillia has developed a number of Strategies. These strategies will evolve as Sustainability Orillia learns, grows and itself evolves :

  • Support and cooperation with City sponsored projects (Climate Change response/adaption, efficiencies, innovation, Committees of Council initiatives)
  • Engagement, education and dialogue with individuals and organizations to establish interest and commitment to Sustainability
  • Facilitation of community socio-enviro-economically viable sustainability projects that characterize:
    • Local, non-partisan, cooperative action to enhance sustainability with broader impact
    • Recognition that everyone is a stakeholder in their and others’ futures and all groups are welcome contributors
    • Cross-sector thinking and engagement with mutually beneficial plans and actions
  • A focus on measurable reductions in individual, community, city carbon footprint enabled with “smart city” technology
  • Ensuring demonstrable quick wins and long term enhancements to Orillia’s Sustainability

Organizing to Achieve Enhanced Sustainability through Community Engagement

We believe in a “big tent” approach in which all of the diverse interests of our community can find encouragement, tools, advice and  a place to enhance sustainability practices that mean the most to them.

With that in mind, we believe that within the sectors below (example interests shown), everyone will find a focus and will maximize community interest and engagement:

  1. Agriculture/Food – (growing, diet, local sourcing, waste, supply, sharing)
  2. Land/Water/Habitat – (carbon sink (natural sequestering), habitat, water pollution – plastics, chlorides,  nitrates, phosphates)
  3. Goods and Services  (reuse, recycling, packaging, single use plastic eco tourism, reduced carbon footprint, green marinas, carbon offsets)
  4. Housing (green, affordable, intensification, environmental manageability)
  5. Transportation, Renewable Energy and Conservation (electrification, EVs, alt transport, solar, wind)
  6. Private Sector Capital and Operations – (eco footprint of development, building and operations, socially responsible investment, carbon market/pricing)
  7. Arts and Culture (leadership in societal change – art, music, theatre, writing…)
  8. Education (Informal, Formal, and Nonformal systems targeting children to seniors)
  9. Health and Wellness (physical, mental, emotional)

Next Steps

The next few months will see a period of detailed planning, recruitment of additional members to represent the sectors and secure sponsors and supporters to toward a Launch event May 24 and 25th.  We will also be laying the foundation, implementing our communications and promotion and planning for the longer term.

The Launch will feature a Friday evening Mayor’s reception, a viewing of the film Anthropocene and a discussion period following the film.

Saturday will begin with remarks by Mayor Steve Clarke and Mayors of cities with existing carbon footprint or sustainability initiatives. The afternoon is reserved for action. Sector presentations and discussion in the breakout sessions will be focused on actions to be taken and will culminate in an action report for each sector. The Mayor will provide a wrap up for the afternoon and a call to action for the City and every citizen of Orillia.

Following the Launch, the Task Force will focus organize, analyze and rank the ideas to form an implementation plan for 2019-2022 which will include allocating projects to sector teams, SMART objective setting including GHG reduction targets, resourcing (both City and community), performance metrics and reporting. We will focus initially on quick wins and then longer range initiatives.  facilitating and supporting the Sector Committees in their work, learning from other cities, benchmarking Orillia’s Global Footprint*, measuring impacts of projects and monitoring our progress toward objectives with annual reports to the citizens.