South Shore municipality's climate action plan includes energy-efficient buildings

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is looking to develop public transit and invest in electric vehicles as part of a new climate action plan. (CBC - image credit)
The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is looking to develop public transit and invest in electric vehicles as part of a new climate action plan. (CBC - image credit)

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, N.S., is looking at developing public transit and investing in electric vehicles as part of its new climate action plan.

The plan promises to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030. It advances to a 65 per cent reduction by 2040 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

"I'm really happy to see it going out there in the community and see that we're already starting to make headway on it," said District 8 Coun. Kacy DeLong.

The 27 community climate actions outlined in the plan include retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient, land conservation and increasing electric vehicle infrastructure.

There's also a significant focus on improving public transportation options. The plan suggests longer-term goals of implementing a bike-share and car-share program, but establishing a public transport system for the region is a priority.

The district is proposing an expansion of Bridgewater's public transit service to surrounding areas, connecting growing communities like Cookville.

"If we can partner with them to have a transit system that operates in their town but also comes into our jurisdiction we may do that," said DeLong. "But there's always difficulties when you're trying to get something off of paper and into reality."

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

DeLong recognizes the district's main challenge for a public transit system is finding a way to serve about 25,000 residents living in communities spread throughout the largely rural area. She said council will address that by proposing changes to municipal zoning and development to create denser neighbourhoods.

"Ideally we will be reducing our carbon footprint and making lives easier for our residents at the same time," said DeLong.

There's also a corporate action plan that includes installing solar panels on municipal buildings in the next two years and converting some of the municipal fleet to electric vehicles.

Thomas Arnason McNeil, the climate policy co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, said the plan is ambitious.

"I think all these are really positive steps, you know, really positive concrete things. I think it represents the municipality really putting its money where its mouth is," he said.

Arnason McNeil said the plan had a good mix of short-, medium- and long-term goals. He said he's encouraged by the investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and flood mitigation.

"I think this is what leadership looks like coming from a rural municipality with limited resources," he said.

Arnason McNeil said one of the municipality's biggest challenges will be making sure they have enough staff to carry out the plan. Ultimately, he said, he's encouraged by the plan's scope and detail and wants to see the province make similar moves.

"At the local level, at the grassroots level, Nova Scotians are ready to act on climate change," he said. "And we understand that climate change poses a threat to our communities and we're taking action. But what we need is provincial leadership on these issues."

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