Environment Haliburton wants quicker action on climate change
By Chad Ingram
Citizen group Environment Haliburton would like the County of Haliburton to expedite the creation of its climate change plan.
Environment Haliburton member Susan Hay visited county councillors during their July 24 meeting. The County of Haliburton is in the process of creating a climate change plan. 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 county will hire a climate change co-ordinator later this year to draft the plan itself. The plan will look at ways the municipalities themselves can become more sustainable in their operations, as well community-wide initiatives to reduce emissions.
Hay updated councillors on the activities of Environment Haliburton, including a recent focus on composting. The group is producing a video about the practice of composting at home, and Hay stressed that personal choices are an effective way to help battle climate change. There is currently no stream for organic waste within the county’s landfills, but the municipalities of Dysart et al and Highlands East have recently purchased a bulk order of composters and digesters that will be available for residents to purchase. Digesters are similar to composters, but can process materials composters do not, such as meat byproducts. Hay encouraged Minden Hills and Algonquin Highlands townships to get involved in the program as well.
“Algonquin Highlands had composters for years,” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt, but added perhaps it was something the township could start doing again.
Hay listed other initiatives Environment Haliburton would like to see the county’s municipalities undertake, such as the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and the planting of more trees.
“We should be planting trees wherever possible, especially in areas prone to flooding,” Hay said.
Hay was also critical of municipalities maintaining ice in arenas on a year-round basis.
“I can’t imagine any arena can consider having ice all summer long when we are facing an existential climate change crisis,” she said.
She also wondered if it was possible for the county to speed up its climate change planning process, with the plan expected to be fully complete for 2021.
“Is it possible to expedite the climate change plan?” Hay asked councillors.
“Personally, I can’t see moving any faster than what we’ve outlined as far as a climate change plan,” said Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and County Warden Liz Danielsen.
Councillors responded to Hay’s presentation by listing environmental initiatives taking place within their municipalities.
“Dysart is looking at electric charging stations,” said Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts, noting that while there is currently no money budgeted for the purpose, the introduction of charging stations is being discussed at the committee level.
Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin said the 98 per cent of the material from the demolition of the old arena in Minden had been diverted out of the landfill, with the metal being salvaged and recycled.