Kitchener to get climate change adaptation tips from other municipalities as part of national pilot

Kitchener is one of 25 municipalities part of a new one-year national pilot project looking to connect local governments to better address greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Pilot will review city's data to help build strong foundation for future, sustainability officer says

Kitchener is one of 25 municipalities taking part in a one-year national pilot project looking at the best way to adapt to climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions. (Brian St. Denis/CBC)

Kitchener is looking for new ways to engage city staff and the public on adapting to climate change.

To do that, city staff says it's joined a national pilot project of 25 municipalities. They'll be able to submit data for careful review and be paired with other municipal governments who have had similar problems for peer-to-peer mentoring.

Claire Bennett is the city's corporate sustainability officer and she says climate action plans can be complex and planning for climate change is a challenge. Having the support of other municipalities can help guide the city more easily, she says.

"Specifically, City of Kitchener is looking for support in program development," Bennett said. "We're doing great work in capital project implementation, but we really need to be engaging our key stakeholders; that's staff and our citizens that are using our facilities."

She said the city will also really benefit from having a national group of experts look over data from projects they've already implemented, like greenhouse gas inventories and ideas the city has some risk or vulnerabilities around when it comes to adapting to climate change.

"To have people review those is really beneficial because maybe there will be some updates or opportunities to get better data …  so there's a benefit there that we can always set this strong foundation to go from and we can have better information," she said.

City's plan could become a model

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says he's pleased Kitchener is taking part in the pilot. The city adopted its corporate climate action plan in April, which lays out how the city will address emission targets.

"Being selected for this pilot, we will have the resources and knowledge needed to make Kitchener's climate action a model for municipalities across Canada and the world," he said in a release announcing the pilot.

It sets out a framework of five milestones for the municipalities. Kitchener is already on the third milestone, which Bennett says means they'll be better positioned to help other municipalities that are only just getting started on their climate action plans.

As well, city staff will take part in monthly webinars and there's an in-person workshop in January in Montreal. That workshop will be paid for by the national group.

"It's completely free to us as a municipality to partner and we're getting incredible resources," Bennett said.

The pilot runs for one year and at the end, Bennett says the city will have formed relationships with other municipalities that they can use going forward when issues arise.

"If we can be creating our own sort of network of like-minded roles or similar sort of roles of other municipalities, I can stay in contact with these folks hopefully ongoing and have access to their information and we can bounce ideas off of each other and share best practices," she said.

The pilot project is part of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Canada. That is a part of the Global Covenant of Mayors Canada, which is made up of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, ICLEI Canada, the Global Covenant of Mayors Secretariat and the International Urban Cooperation Project supported by funding from the European Union.


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