NORTH PERTH – Council voted in favour of adopting a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction plan and directed staff to begin preparing an implementation plan on Oct. 18.
The climate coordinator, Amara Kartick, has been presenting a GHG reduction plan to the seven partnering municipalities in Perth County. North Perth, Perth East, Perth South, West Perth, Stratford, St. Marys and the county itself.
“The plan is based on five milestones that involve completing a greenhouse gas inventory and forecast, setting a greenhouse gas reduction target, developing a local action plan, implementing that plan and monitoring the progress and results,” she said. “Through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) PCP Partners for Climate Protection’s (PCP) platform North Perth’s community emissions were compiled and uploaded to the tool which then assisted in calculating the whole emissions from each sector.”
The baseline for the current data is 2017 but Kartick, who only replaced the previous climate change coordinator four months ago, is in the process of updating the information with current data.
“We’re the fifth council Amara has presented to,” said CAO, Kriss Snell. “My understanding is three of the four previous member municipalities have approved and adopted the plan – the Township of Perth South, the City of Stratford and the Town of St. Marys.”
He said West Perth still had questions they wanted answers to.
“I think tonight it’s important to realize that this plan is a starting point,” said Snell. “It will take an implementation strategy going forward that will be the nuts and bolts of how we get this plan into action.”
Coun. Matt Duncan said he saw quite a bit of data in the plan on how much greenhouse gas is being produced, but he was curious why he didn’t see any data in the plan on how much our natural environments sequester the carbon being produced to give a final amount of carbon to reduce.
“I think that would be a more accurate number for us to try to live by if we knew how much the natural environment sequestered as opposed to just how much we produce overall,” he said.
Snell said people refer to that as the net-zero formula but there has been a lot of debate around the discussion of net-zero.
“Let’s take the agricultural sector as an easy example of that,” he said. “We all know they have crop inputs and they probably do create a lot of carbon sequestering through their plant production. That’s all great and it’s all very positive work.”
He asked if people can still look at ways to reduce the emissions created in the agricultural sector.
“I think the answer is probably yes but we want to make sure we support the agricultural sector in those initiatives and there is certainly good practices going on that do impact, like cover crops,” said Snell. “Certainly cover crops have made a resounding rebound in the recent years… but certainly we know they are not used by everybody so I think sequestering can be part of the solution but I think also anything we can do to reduce our carbon inputs no matter what sector they are from… I still think it’s imperative that we should be trying to reduce our overall emissions to the environment.”
Coun. Allan Rothwell said he thinks it is fantastic that one of the recommendations on the agriculture side is a clean water project.
“Just for your information and it should be known by other staff… for a number of years the county was part of the clean water project that covered all of the county as well as our watersheds,” he said. “This is crucial for us in our community… to get back into the understanding of what agriculture is to our county and the importance of the environment in all this. Our farmers traditionally are considered to be agricultural stewards. They need help to do the right thing and I think it’s fantastic this proposal for a clean water type project and (I am) fully in support of that.”
Rothwell pointed out that there is already an agriculture working group within Perth County.
“I think it needs to be bolstered and increased in terms of its stature,” he said.
He asked if there was any information about further funding for the implementation of the GRG reduction plan.
Snell said the initial funding envelope for the first phase of the plan was extended by FCM to February 2022.
“I’m hopeful but I haven’t seen anything for sure yet but there will be some funds available for implementation after that date but they will have to be negotiated between FCM and the federal government,” he said.
Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen said she noticed the impact of on-road and off-road transportation in the data.
“It’s a tremendous impact on our environment… because the other elements of what is contributing to our environmental conditions are minute compared to that,” she said. “So I appreciate the work Perth County has done with PC Connect and trying to help with transportation… to link other communities with us and the county.”
She noted transportation challenges because people in rural areas still need to drive a lot to access services.
“We don’t have the same amount of access to public transportation even though we do have PC Connect,” said Andriessen “There are still limitations to that so I think that’s something… (that) could be a greater focus.”
Snell said that an observation that has been noted by most of the partner municipalities was wastewater and sewage is showing zero emissions. He said Kartick caught this very early when she joined the project.
“We know that wastewater and sewage plants actually do have emissions,” he said. “The problem is there hasn’t been a lot of work done in the industry on our size of plant about what emissions they do produce and so we didn’t have that data available, even the City of Stratford doesn’t have that data so I think there is still some work to do on emissions.”
He said the wastewater treatment plant creates both carbon and methane emissions so there is more work to do on collecting emissions data because currently some of the numbers are misleading.
North Perth council voted unanimously in favour of directing staff to prepare an implementation plan for the GHG emissions reduction plan.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner