Climate change is arguably the single most pressing, most important, most challenging issue to affect governments at this time. Our world is suffering and weather is getting extreme in many parts. It’s affecting crops, wildlife, safety, water… everything.
But what are Canadian municipalities doing to combat it, to reign in their use of fossil fuels, reduce their carbon footprint, reduce emissions, pollution, and embrace alternate energy systems?
Not much, according to a study done by the Ontario Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure. OCSI’s 2014 report, “When the Bough Breaks” has some discouraging statistics. According to their survey, only 38% of Ontario municipalities are “incorporating climate change into their asset management planning.” Climate change was a priority in only 13% of municipalities.
Scarier is that, when given a list of relevant activities to choose from, 22% of respondents admitted their municipality was doing nothing to address climate change impacts. Nothing. A fifth of our municipalities aren’t even preparing themselves for catastrophic or severe weather.
In 2008, Collingwood’s now-forgotten Sustainable Community Plan report had this to say:
Over the next forty years, the Town of Collingwood is expected to experience local forces of change such as unprecedented population growth and changing demographic and global forces of change such as rising commodity prices and climate change… Over the next 40 years, climate change may impact the topography, water supply, water levels and climate in Collingwood, and around the world.
The plan went on to address ways Collingwood might act to create a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly community that helped reduce the human impact on climate change. Some, but far from all, of these ideas were incorporated in later town initiatives.
Since then, there have been many initiatives to deal with climate effects implemented by municipalities worldwide (especially to mitigate the threat to municipal infrastructure), and there are whole new trends in areas like stormwater management that have developed and are being shared.
But what has Collingwood done since that report? Not much, if anything.