Sault Ste. Marie city council approves 'training wheels' plan to fight climate change

Sault Ste. Marie has now joined Greater Sudbury in promising to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Pledge to reduce municipal emissions by 10 per cent by 2030, but most CO2 in the Sault comes from industry

The Algoma steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie is one of the largest carbon emitters in Ontario. (Erik White/CBC)

Sault Ste. Marie city council has approved a plan to get its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

It includes reducing emissions from city operations by 10 per cent over the next 10 years, as well as 5 per cent from the rest of the community. 

However, the municipality only represents 1 per cent of the 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide produced by the Sault every year.

Twelve per cent of that comes from vehicle traffic and 69 per cent from the industrial use of natural gas, in particular the Algoma steel mill, which is one of the largest emitters in the province. 

Sault Ste. Marie city councillor Donna Hilsinger wondered if the climate change goals should be set a little higher. 

"It doesn't seem like a lot and I'm wondering if we couldn't work toward having more of an impact in these next ten years," she asked staff at Monday night's meeting.

Climate change coordinator Emily Cormier says the climate plan is a "living document" and can be adjusted in the months and years ahead.

"I think this plan should be looked at as something like training wheels, if you like. It's a really good foundation, but it leaves windows open," she said. 

Other cities in northeastern Ontario, including Greater Sudbury, have also pledged to get greenhouse gas emissions down to zero in the next 30 years. Timmins has a similar plan to the Sault, to reduce city emissions by 10 per cent over the next decade. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to