Windsor-Essex schools will continue to make schools greener despite $100M cut

Windsor-Essex schools will continue to make schools greener despite $100M cut

Energy efficiency programs in Windsor-Essex schools won't be scrapped with the province cutting $100-million fund allocated for school repairs, but goals will take longer to accomplish.

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund cut is a result of Doug Ford's campaign promise to scrap the province's cap-and-trade program. What will happen now is that only work contracted on or before July 3 will be covered by the province.

"That means we will have to look at other available funding in order to continue with our energy efficiency program," said Giuliana Hinchliffe, coordinator of engineering for the Greater Essex County District School Board.

"However, we're grateful for the year we got [the funding] and it will only defer our program, it will not derail our program," she said.

The school board has been trying to cut down on utility costs in order to be able to spend more on other board priorities such as programming. Because of how beneficial the savings would be, even without the province's funds, the board is committing to turning the schools more green.

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board is on the same page.

Chairperson of the board, Barbara Holland, wants to emphasize that the funding that's cut isn't for school maintenance, but for bringing in new energy efficient components to the schools.

The board recently passed a budget and Holland said they're in a good place.

"Although this would've given us to do more than that, it really does not impact our ability to have great learning environments in place for our kids," she said.

Holland adds the Catholic board has been doing energy efficiency upgrades to the schools for years and the board has every intention of continuing as planned.

'Our children are sweltering'

While the school boards are pressing on with their energy upgrades, a parent is concerned the cuts might mean schools won't be a safe learning environment for children.

Lisa Richard, whose two children attend Coronation Public School in east Windsor, has been advocating or air conditioning in schools across the region.

She says toward the end of this past school year, her kids were coming home with heat exhaustion. And with these cuts, she thinks it'll be unlikely that schools can get air conditioning units installed.

"While everyone in Queen's Park and et cetera are sitting in climate-controlled, air-conditioned rooms, our children are sweltering and passing out," said Richard.

The climate is changing and it's definitely hotter than it was when she went to school in the 80's, she added. Plus some schools in this area can't have their windows open for a breeze, due to safety concerns like a school lock down that happened in late May.

Richard asserts that times are changing and the green initiatives are important to schools and the kids.

"We can't keep going on acting like the way we have for the last 20 years … green schools are the wave of the future."