Did you know that there will actually be two plans as part of Orillia’s final Climate Change Action Plan? Most of you likely already know that both a ‘Corporate’ and a ‘Community’ Climate Change Action Plan are being developed under one strategic banner – Orillia’s Climate Future. The plans will consist of targets and actions designed to reduce Orillia’s overall greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions. The ‘Corporate’ Climate Action Plan (CAP) will be specific to the GhG emissions generated by the City of Orillia. And the ‘Community’ Climate Action Plan (CCAP) will address the GhG by from the rest of our community. Together they will form a comprehensive strategy which will be presented to Orillia’s City Council for review and approval in early 2022.
Since its inception in May of this year, the project team under the leadership of Renee Recoskie, supported by a team of experienced consultants from the Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG) have made steady progress; engaging with citizens and gathering their priorities, opinions and vision for Orillia’s Climate Future. Valuable input that will shape the final plans. They have also begun to model a number of carbon reduction options – in particular for the CAP or City Plan.
As Renee recently said “We are well into the ‘Active Community Engagement Period’ of the planning process.” The input and consultation process was launched in September with a well- subscribed public survey and a well-attended virtual town hall. Renee is emphatic about ensuring representation from all demographics and backgrounds in the process. Reaching and hearing from as many Orillians as possible has been an imperative throughout the engagement process.
Both initiatives captured valuable input. There have also been workshops with a community-based Steering Committee. This Steering Committee has close to forty participants, representing organizations and businesses from across the community. Earlier this fall they met to define ‘future state’ or vision statements for a number of critical life-categories …such as Health Care, the Economy, and Transportation. Later this month, they will meet again, to continue the consultation, including a review of the public survey findings.
In late October a special meeting of Council was held to review a preliminary draft of the CAP and its supporting analysis. The City’s current and projected GhG emissions were presented, along with options (with costings) the City has to meet or beat the targets set for 2050. The Council was very supportive of the work to-date and is looking forward to the final report and recommendations, including the CCAP (Community plan). Although the City is only responsible for approximately 1% of Orillia’s total GhG emissions, this first review was very important for many reasons … as the City’s leadership will be critical both in terms of their own CAP, but also for the approval of the CCAP and overall Orillia’s Climate Future strategy. Their leadership in the implementation of the recommended actions of both plans will be crucial.
So, what’s next? There will be several focus groups over the next couple of weeks to gather feedback and test some potential actions with these groups – which will, in turn be considerations in finalizing the plans. And as already mentioned, another community-based Steering Committee is planned for the coming weeks.
Sustainable Orillia will continue to monitor, participate and report out on the progress of this key initiative that has impact for the futures of everyone who lives in Orillia. As Renee noted in a recent conversation …the most difficult part of the project is implementation and she stressed the importance of everyone in the community working together alongside the City to make it happen.
Throughout this process our role at Sustainable Orillia is to advocate for targets and actions that will have the most impact in reducing GhG emissions here in Orillia. As we have said before, Sustainable Orillia views ‘Orillia Climate Future’s’ recommended actions as crucial to strategically and collaboratively addressing climate change, right here where we live and breathe. We are optimistic that the final plan will reflect many, if not all of our priorities. As an organization, we are committed to supporting and working with the City and the community to implement the final recommended actions once they have been tabled, reviewed and ultimately approved by Orillia’s City Council in the months ahead. And we urge all citizens of Orillia, all local businesses and organizations to do likewise. It’s that important.
Please go to the City of Orillia’s website for more information, including a complete report on the October 22nd presentation to Council.
1: Orillia’s Manager of Property and Environmental Sustainability