County starts climate change plan process
By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County council is supporting the creation of a climate change plan for the county and its lower tiers, after receiving a staff report on how that process will unfold during a March 27 planning committee meeting.
The county’s planning committee consists of all of county council and will for this term be chaired by Highlands East Mayor Dave Burton.
The staff report was drafted by county planner Charlsey White and public works director Craig Douglas, who explained he and White had looked at climate change plans created by, and/or implemented in other municipalities.
“Municipalities are doing it all a little bit differently,” Douglas said, but indicated that it is common for climate change planning to start within a municipality’s own offices and operations, and then expand outwards into the community at large. So, often, there are at least two separate plans: one for climate change adaptation within local government, and one for climate change adaptation within the community it serves.
As White pointed out, often the municipal house needs to be put in order before the wider community plan can be implemented.
“If we’re asking everyone to consider recycling, and consider composting, do we have to have places for them to take that?” she said.
The idea is to create one cohesive plan, for the upper-tier of the county itself and its four lower-tier governments. This will include the creation of working groups of municipal staff, as well as consultation with the respective environmental committees of each of the four lower tiers, as well as other stakeholders and the public at large.
The plan is for the county to hire a climate change co-ordinator in the fall of 2019, “once the scope of work, phasing, governance, and professional qualification of potential staff are finalized,” the staff report reads.
County council included $40,000 for climate change in the 2019 budget, and it’s estimated the cost in 2020 will be $125,000 for staff wages, benefits and project costs.
Next steps include county staff present the framework for the climate change plan to each of the lower-tier councils, seeking resolutions of support and for dedication of staff time.
“It’s pragmatic . . . step by step . . . and it appears not to be putting the cart in front of the horse,” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin.
Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts wondered, once a plan was created, if that would bring changes to requirements such as the way ditches are constructed.
“When we have a plan, will it change what our standards are?” Roberts asked.
“For sure, that’s one of the rabbit holes we’ll have to go down, as we move forward,” Douglas said.
“We need to make sure what we can do is sustainable and achievable,” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt, who noted she thought there’d be an abundance of residents interested in getting involved with the project.