It’s been almost four months since Orillia’s Community Climate Change Action Plan, entitled “Orillia’s Climate Future,” was adopted in principle by Council. There has been a lot going on since then. It’s time for an update—but first, a recap.
Readers will recall that the multi-year plan is anchored on three initiatives—or Big Moves:
- Big Move 1 – Renewable Energy,
- Big Move 2 – Transportation,
- Big Move 3 – Buildings.
Supporting strategies are outlined for both the Corporation (the City) and the Community at large. Working with five-year horizons, each initiative supports making Orillia a Net-Zero Community by 2050 or sooner.
Since April, the Property and Environmental Sustainability Division, led by Renee Recoskie, have been hard at work behind the scenes. A draft implementation plan has been developed to guide staff on next steps towards Corporate and Corporate-led Community actions. The plan, due for finalization later this fall, focuses on actions slated to occur within the next three to five years to achieve the adopted and endorsed targets.
The team is already overseeing implementation of two major initiatives. These two projects are foundation blocks for broader implementation as the overall project picks up both funding and momentum.
In support of Big Move #2 – Transportation – the City has installed EV charging stations in anticipation of the planned move to electrify the City’s entire fleet. New charging stations are now in place at Orillia City Centre and over at Fire Station #1 where the city’s first electric vehicle is housed. No, that first city-owned EV isn’t a fire truck (not yet!), but the replacement of the Fire Chief’s command vehicle. There are more EVs and charging stations to come as the City launches its long-term conversion towards reducing emissions due to transportation.
And in support of Big Move #3 – Buildings – the City recently launched its Greenhouse Gas Facility Audit. After a thorough RFP process, Efficiency Engineering Inc. was selected to conduct the first five audits – including that of the Orillia City Centre. With 35 buildings owned and maintained by the City, this is another long-term project. Yet, according to Renee, even at this early stage of the project there has been a tremendous amount of learning, learning that will help with both the quick fixes and the more long-term ones.
Another major activity since Council approval of “Orillia’s Climate Future” took place has been the preparation and submission of grant applications for funding for many of the planned initiatives. This is always a very demanding and time-consuming process. The team has already been successful in receiving grants towards the installation of charging stations—with more support money to come.
So what’s next? After several months of backroom work, it’s time to get out into the public arena once again. Renee is hopeful that everyone has made the most of our first summer without pandemic restrictions and that Orillians will be energized and ready to engage as the plan moves into the implementation and adaption phase. The community-based Steering Committee will be back at their virtual table later in September and, more than ever, Renee and her team will be positioning that committee as a critical conduit in communications—back and forth—with all members of the community.
So the work is well underway. Renee, her team, and everyone involved continue to work on this plan, putting the building blocks in place to make it happen. And as with all climate action initiatives . . . we can’t afford to lose any more time in this life-challenging battle.