Climate change is the greatest challenge facing society today. As individuals and communities, we can play an important part in preventing and adapting to climate change. Our roles are increasingly important in: environmental planning and protection; ensuring economic stability, as well as in taking advantage of the development of new markets; and maintaining and improving public health and safety.
There are a number of ways our city can lead adaptive and proactive efforts to help reverse climate change and mitigate its effects. As Ward 4 Councillor, I will work to ensure that climate change is an integral part of the dialogue around major decisions and strategies. The following are my ideas for action that we can take in the face of climate change.
Develop and Improve Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure
- Improve public transit routes and increase frequency of buses on key routes.
- Establish periodical incentive programs to increase public transit ridership.
- Invest in bicycle infrastructure and promote road sharing to encourage cycling.
- Develop a scoring system, with minimum requirements, for walkability and sustainability for new neighbourhood planning or revitalization projects.
- Support piloting of car-share programs.
Development Informed by Climate Science
- Areas of the city such as Ropewalk Lane, Churchill Square, and segments of Elizabeth Avenue represent development opportunities that can reduce vehicle use by way of mixed use rejuvenation to establish neighbourhood businesses and service providers.
- Build and bolster coastal infrastructure by applying ideas that incorporate models of changing sea levels as well as increased frequency and severity of storms.
- Proceed with opportunities to capture and generate electricity from the methane and thermal energy produced at the Robin Hood Bay landfill.
- Act to protect wetlands, urban forests, and natural environments in and around the city with regulatory tools.
- As vehicles need replacement, upgrade the municipal fleet to hybrid, electric or alternative-fuel vehicles by updating policies for sourcing and procurement.
- Use best practices that reduce environmental impact, in building design, construction and renovation when expanding, replacing, or adding city facilities. In many cases, this will also reduce the capital cost as well as the operational costs of city buildings.
Empower and Protect Residents
- Cooperate with Newfoundland Power, NL Hydro, and the provincial government to encourage and enable net metering in the city.
- Expand efforts to increase recycling rates, including public education campaigns and placing additional recycling bins in public spaces and public events.
- Encourage entrepreneurs contributing to local supply chains (wood workers, farmers, artists, etc.) to reduce shipping and transportation of goods that can be produced locally.
- Maintain and continue to develop tree-planting requirements for new developments and offer opportunities to encourage homeowners to plant trees.
- Consider offering homeowners and landlords property tax incentives to complement existing energy efficiency programs offered by Newfoundland Power and NL Hydro.
Some of these ideas represent new costs and many can also help the city save money. These ideas and our overall approach to climate change needs to be further debated on council and have the potential to help make our city a more safe and affordable place to live for all residents.
While these ideas represent some of the ways our city can respond to climate change, what’s needed beyond a to-do list is a cultural shift in how we design, build, and plan. This is a reality that every municipality faces and one that we must take seriously - analysing and exploring both the emerging opportunities and associated risks. We owe it to our families, our children, our residents, and to our shared environment.
If you’d like to chat more about our city and climate change, give me a call anytime at 771-4582.