Mississauga to roll out draft $450M climate change action plan
'Is it too ambitious? Is it not ambitious enough?' asks climate change specialist Leya Barry
Mississauga will let the public have its say on a $450 million draft climate change action plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 80 per cent by 2050.
The plan, described as "a path forward for climate action" over 10 years, calls for solar panels on municipal buildings, electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city, an expansion of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, a greening of the city's bus fleet and a retrofit of all municipal buildings to be near net zero.
It also calls for the public to adopt what it calls "sustainable modes of transport." That means getting out of the car. Currently, 80 per cent of all trips to, from and within Mississauga are taken in a personal vehicle. The plan call for that number to drop to 50 per cent by 2041.
Next month, the city will hold three open houses and conduct an online survey to collect opinions from residents about the plan. The city's general committee approved a staff report about it on Wednesday and the Mississauga council will consider the staff report for final approval next week.
"We have a draft. We are taking it out. We want to know what people think. Is it too ambitious? Is it not ambitious enough? We want to hear from the public," says Leya Barry, the city's climate change coordinator.
"We are going to take all that input, we're going to put it into the draft, and then we're bring that draft back to council in December."
Barry said the plan envisions Mississauga as a "low carbon and resilient community." It has two key goals: mitigation, which is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; and adaptation, which is about the ability of the city to cope with future climate events.
Concerns over flooding, extreme heat, storms
"We know that we are facing flooding, extreme heat, extreme wind and ice storms," Barry said.
The plan's long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, but its interim goal is to reduce those emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.
"We do have a long way to go. We need to get going on these actions and make sure that we are being ambitious but we're being realistic and achievable in what we are outlining. And that's what we have really tried to focus on for the plan," she said.
Barry said the plan identifies actions that both the city and residents can take and that can benefit both. Planting trees, she said, is a good example. Trees can mitigate the risk of flooding and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"The more trees we plant, the cooler the city gets, the more water we can retain, the less flooding risks we have, and there's also a reduction in greenhouse house emissions because the trees can absorb carbon. That's a win-win, or co-beneficial action," she said.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said on Wednesday that she is proud that the city has draft climate change action plan.
"We believe it's the moral, the ethical and the right thing to do," Crombie said.
City has transportation, housing challenges, expert says
Amrita Daniere, vice-principal academic and dean of the University of Toronto Mississauga, said the plan is a good idea but that Mississauga has a lot of challenges when it comes to being more sustainable, particularly in terms of transportation and housing.
"Obviously, Mississauga grew as a suburb in the days when the car was king. The scale of development in Mississauga is really built around the automobile, which isn't a sustainable form of transportation," she said.
"Things aren't very dense. You have to travel a far distance to get to anywhere else."
Daniere, who was consulted about the plan, said single family homes are the predominant housing style in Mississauga and it would be ideal to have more townhouses and apartment buildings because they are more energy efficient.
"I think the economics are already driving Mississauga to adopt more sustainable patterns of development. They recognize, you know, the people that bought the houses there in the 70s, their children can't afford to replicate living in those homes," she said.
The plan has five "action pathways" or categories that act as themes for actions: buildings and clean energy; resilient and green infrastructure; accelerating discovery and innovation; low emissions mobility; and engagement and partnerships.
The plan comes after Mississauga city council declared a climate emergency in June, joining a number of Canadian municipalities in doing so.
With files from Natalie Nanowski