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On the Road to Net-Zero – an Overview of Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 Strategic Plan

The new year promises both hope and change … hope that the pandemic will take its leave and allow the world to take a deep breath, safely unmasked in the company of friends and family.   Hope that the sustainable movement continues to gather momentum, here in Orillia, across Canada and all over the world.  There are indications that 2022 will be pivotal as politicians, business leaders and the media increasingly recognize that growing numbers of the general public are demanding greater leadership and bolder change to counter the climate crisis.  A majority of Canadians believe in the science of climate change. More importantly, they believe their own eyes as they see the destruction and the tragedy that the climate crisis is already generating here and elsewhere. 

Well what do we do about it?   That’s the question we frequently ask ourselves at Sustainable Orillia.   Tackling the climate crisis and fostering sustainability is a complex, multi-faceted challenge – so much so, that many either don’t know where to begin and can give way to denial or despair.  Yet there are many ways to tackle and defeat the climate crisis, almost as many as there are people on the planet and that should give us hope, lots of hope.  We just need to start…

Beating back the climate crisis won’t happen randomly.  At all levels we need to be informed and organized in order to tackle those issues with the greatest potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions and thereby foster a more sustainable quality of life.  Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 strategies are squarely focused on reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability. Our strategies have evolved in stride with those initiatives having the greatest potential to reduce emissions and with what works best for our community, both short and long term. 

Our 2022 strategic review got underway last fall.   Input on priorities for the coming year was gathered from all our stakeholders.  An environmental scan was conducted and the assumption was made that, at some point in 2022, we will be able to confidently plan ‘in-person’ events and gatherings once again. (Here’s hoping!) A small strategic planning committee was formed, that organized the data and then created and populated a framework that the full board, including ex officio members and sector leads, could review.  

Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 strategy was approved in mid-December.  It is anchored on four strategic directions or pillars: Advocate, Educate, Motivate and Participate. Each pillar defines a strategic direction, that is supported by individual strategies and action plans aimed at achieving results.   It’s our pleasure to share the following high-level summary of our 2022 plan and as always, we look forward to any feedback you may have. 

Advocate

Sustainable Orillia will advocate for decisions and actions that move our Community towards a more sustainable future.

Action Plans include advocating:

  • For local municipalities to develop long-term (30 year) sustainability visions, goals and plans.
  • For local municipal councils to make ‘sustainability’ their priority
  • For net-zero developments
  • For candidates for elected office (at all levels) who prioritize sustainability, and 
  • For a more sustainable community overall.

Educate

Sustainable Orillia will create and seek out formal and informal opportunities to increase the 

‘climate literacy’ of the community.

Action Plans include: 

  • Making learning opportunities available (webinars, speaker series, EV demos, etc.)
  • Providing expert information and advice/fostering discussion and understanding of sustainability topics.
  • Promoting/disseminating relevant research and recommendations
  • Developing a Sustainable Orillia Science Award 

Motivate

Sustainable Orillia will produce programs and events that will motivate members of the community to support and join our sustainable movement. 

Action Plans include:

  • Reaching more people through community outreach strategies
  • Deploying multi-media strategies, including social media platforms
  • Recognizing positive sustainable initiatives in the community 
  • Providing the community with a site to share information, suggestions and experiences on climate change and sustainability. 

Participate

Sustainable Orillia will collaborate with a broad range of partners, volunteers and donors to help develop and implement programs and projects that will contribute to Sustainable Orillia’s vision and mission. 

Action Plans include: 

  • Proactively building our network of like-minded partners with whom to collaborate
  • Expanding our volunteer and subscriber base (key to becoming a stronger advocate for sustainable decision-making in and by the community.
  • Participating with the City in the implementation of approved action plans arising from ‘Orillia’s Climate Future’ project. 

As referenced in the plan, we will work with partners, including the City of Orillia and surrounding communities. Ongoing input into and support for Orillia’s climate change action plan, Orillia’s Climate Future, is an integral part of Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 strategy.  

Sustainable Orillia is a not-for-profit incorporated organization.  We are a network of citizens committed to improving the quality of life, the health and wellness, and the environment in our community. Mandated and supported by the Mayor and Council, Sustainable Orillia seeks to provide an overarching framework for programs and partnerships that target more sustainable practices, linking community environment, economics and society. 

Our vision is nothing less than ‘our community achieving long-term sustainability and net-zero emissions by 2050’. We are accountable to you, our members, friends, neighbours and the community at large.  We invite you to become an active part of this movement on the journey to net-zero emissions.  By becoming a member,  you not only support Sustainable Orillia in its mission to increase climate literacy and encourage positive behaviour change. You will play an active role in shaping these strategies and supporting programs.  You will become one of an increasing number of engaged citizens who are on the record, demanding action from our governments, our businesses and ourselves.  You will be a voice calling for actions that will ensure a sustainable future for ourselves, our community and for generations to come.   

Please go to www.sustainableorillia.ca for more details on Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 Strategies and to learn more about how you can be part of the solution to the climate crisis. 

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