The Candidates Respond: CLIMATE CHANGE

All candidates for Cobourg Council were invited to present responses to important environmental and sustainability questions issued to them by Sustainable Cobourg. Their responses have been received and published below.

Question
Climate change is one of the greatest global threats in our time. Current Canadian greenhouse gas emission levels must be reduced by 50% within the next 10 years (by 2020) to address climate change.

If elected to Cobourg Council, what measures will you propose that Cobourg take to both reduce the Town’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to help enable Cobourg residents to do the same?

Gil Brocanier
We will show leadership in many areas such as town buildings, vehicles, lighting and water. We will circulate reports on our accomplishments to the citizens and encourage them to seek out opportunities. Through our Environmental Committee we will run education programs for citizens and businesses. I would personally take opportunities to businesses when I conduct regular visits on behalf of the town of Cobourg. We will continue to budget $150,000 annually for environmental projects.

Stan Frost
Work on a climate action plan for the Town of Cobourg was initiated in 2008. The study looked at various sectors including residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and waste. This plan is currently in the implementation stage. Specific initiatives for green house gas reductions are contained within the plan. Reductions are targeted through such initiatives as energy audits, lighting replacements, use of more economical vehicles including hybrid vehicles. The street light replacement effort alone has won the Town an award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and has reduced emissions by some 500 metric tons per year for a 20 year savings of $1.3 million. We have also converted the lighting in our arenas. The new Community Centre is being built to LEED Silver standards and will therefore be highly energy efficient.

In association with the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Cities Initiative, the Town of Cobourg has embarked on a program to reduce residential water consumption by 15% by 2015. We have also instituted a salt management program to reduce the environmental impact of salting the roadways in winter.

Approval in principle has been given to enter into a private/public relationship to place solar panels on the roofs of many of the buildings in Northam industrial Park. Added to this we have significantly reduced power consumption at our sewage treatment plant with the recent tertiary treatment process upgrades.

In short, I believe that Cobourg has demonstrated a real and substantial commitment to addressing climate change.

I support a continued effort on this front as well as strengthening our transportation options to reduce the dependence on the automobile. I also support the investigation of converting waste into energy. They do it quite successfully in Sweden and it is about time we took a serious look.

Dave Glover
Cobourg has already taken a giant leap in reducing energy consumption and green house gasses by switching all of our street lighting to Induction Lighting. We now need to focus on other areas within town to ensure that they are also realizing the benefits from converting to energy saving lighting. Especially on town owned properties like our Industrial parks. Let us not forget that we can also turn the lights off when they’re not required to be on both at the town hall and in our homes. We all need to re think our energy consumption both from an environmental aspect and for our own bottom lines.

Next focus should be on our fleet of town vehicles and doing what we can to make them more environmentally efficient by burning cleaner fuels and perhaps using them more wisely and less often. Some would question the size of our town fleet. For example do we really need this many Cars & trucks to manage a town our size?

Making Cobourg a more walkable and cycle friendly town with the addition of more dedicated cycle lanes and sidewalks in areas where pedestrian safety is a factor. We must be willing to discourage the use of vehicles where possible i.e. in the downtown core and around other public areas like the parks.

John Henderson
There are a number of recommendations that we could consider such as incorporating solar heating systems for town facilities (Centennial Pool) and where possible, retrofit buildings and structures, develop a vehicle and equipment procurement policy to promote use of hybrids, continue the trend of using luxlite induction lighting for our commercial/industrial sector, initiate a sustainable infrastructure maintenance/replacement program and promote environmentally friendly businesses and “green” building practices. For our citizens, we can continue to encourage them to use low flush toilets, energy-efficient kitchen/bathroom faucet aerators and showerheads, Energy Star appliances, applying for ecoEnergy audits and retrofits, and encourage composting to reduce their waste. It is also important that we look at offering more extensive bus transportation routes and incorporating a bicycle master plan to lessen our dependence on vehicles.

Bill MacDonald
Cobourg has developed a plan to reduce greenhouse gases in the community. In conjunction with staff and a summer student, the Environmental Advisory Committee has produced an outline to reduce both energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. This plan was first implemented in 2010 and has seen such actions as bike racks on our new more energy efficient buses, new energy efficient street lighting, a solar panel for Centennial Pool, and more energy efficient lighting in our parks and parking lots. The initial plan calls for the saving of 22,270 tons of CO2 equivalent plus energy savings of $3.9 million. I am prepared to continue to support these efforts in the coming years. Plans for 2020 have yet to be finalized.

Miriam Mutton
Thank you for your thoughtful questions. The questions raise important points about the impact day to day decisions, individually and collectively, have upon our community and our future. Many citizens of Cobourg have shared with me that they are interested in protecting and enhancing our quality of life in our community. This requires sustainable practices.

As a member of Council I would propose that Cobourg investigate best practices in other communities for the reduction of greenhouse emissions. The Town would lead by example and also be involved with other community organizations, such as Sustainable Cobourg and student and neighbourhood groups, in the promoting of ideas and best practices to the community through inserts in utility bills and public displays. I would also support regular presentations at Council, particularly on evenings that meetings are televised. We can also consider solutions that are specific to Cobourg’s situation and Council can request a public report card on the success of our existing and new policies in reducing GHG emissions.

Martin Partridge
I completely accept the prevailing science regarding climate change and the dire threat it poses on a global scale. I believe that our federal government has betrayed the people of Canada and the rest of the world in its deceptive policies. I believe that putting effort and resources into GHG emission reductions produces a triple bottom line – social, economic, and environmental. Cobourg has taken some steps in the right direction recently but seems to be treating it as yesterday’s business. I don’t believe that Cobourg is promoting the right mindset among its employees and its citizens. GHG emission reductions should be an important factor in all discussions about infrastructure improvements, attracting business, town growth, tourism, and the like. Because there has been little or no quantitative information disseminated by Cobourg regarding its emission levels and the consequences of recent initiatives (at least that I have been able to detect), I don’t really know where we stand.

Forrest Rowden
Climate change is effecting every country in the world. We must all work together to make the town of Cobourg a better place for future generations. I would like to have a committee set up with some great ideas to work with council for a list of solutions, this way we could get input from professionals, people at large, and council. In order to make this happen we must also get the province and the federal government involved. I would like to see a 50% reduction in green house gases by 2014. I will leave my auto at home more often, ride my bike and walk to as many events as possible. I bike and walk a lot now, and we have reduced our water in our condo the past year by 30%. As president of our condo association we have encouraged others to do the same.

Manfred Schumann
To put all of my responses into the proper perspective, I will say from the beginning that at the personal level, I do not subscribe to the premise of your opening statement. While the nature of the threat seems to have been modified from “global warming” to a more all-encompassing one of “global climate change”, I have not been convinced that the threat you identify is a threat rather than, by and large, a natural occurrence that has been affected to some degree by human activities.

However, that does not mean that I approve of or condone behavior that is to the detriment of the earth. It also does not imply that I believe that they can all be avoided. I find that to be unrealistic.

General statements such as “Current Canadian greenhouse gas emission levels must be reduced by 50% within the next 10 years (by 2020) to address climate change” are troublesome for me. I tend to think that every effort to reduce harmful activity makes a meaningful contribution to improving our environment, which obviously includes climate change. To say “must be reduced by 50%” is sensationalist.

If elected, the first task would be to become fluent in all aspects of town operations and to become know legible and current in all matters related. Any proposals would only be forthcoming once that is done. I find making proposals and setting targets without that education process tends to be distracting.

Larry Sherwin
Global Warming is an issue that should be at the forefront of our thoughts and concerns. But we are going to have to change years of reliance on vehicles. The town of Cobourg should start now in creating an environment that takes away the need for so much usage of cars. We should expand our bus routes so people can use the bus on their own street, use buses that use different forms of fuel not just gas and diesel. We should create stores in neighbourhoods so our citizens do not have to drive across town. To reduce GHG we should petition our governments to make cars that use alternate fuels more affordable. Because that is one of the issues we face that the means to reduce GHG is out of reach for most people. We should start replacing town vehicles with alternate fuel usage types.

Donna Todd
I am not an educated environmentalist, but I am a certified Yoga Instructor. The community focus of yogic life is based on enlightenment and education. It is inclusive of all people, their ideas and their passion.

In Cobourg I would like to see a community focus and approach to Government. It is through groups such as yours that the educational component will be delivered. Your vision of a greener Cobourg will continue as the technology becomes easier to install and more cost effective.

There is always room for new innovative construction of any projects that the Town of Cobourg is contemplating. The specifications for green efficient building codes must be included in the tendering process for new construction of all developments.

I feel that individuals must decide and be responsible for the greening of their own lives. I will support and encourage, through Council meetings, the sharing of best practices.

I will lobby council to make the greening of Cobourg a priority for the next 4 years and into the future.

What GHG reduction target will you set for the Town of Cobourg itself for 2014 (end of Council term) and for 2020?

Gil Brocanier
36,000 tonnes of e(CO2) which would represent a reduction from the 2012 forecast level of 206,000 tonnes of e(CO2) of 17.5% for 2014 and another 30,000 tonnes to the end of 2020.

Stan Frost
The town’s reduction targets are aimed at 2012 which coincides with Kyoto. Our target in Cobourg is for a reduction of 22,271 tonnes as of end 2012. No doubt this next council will want to assess our success in achieving our current targets and then look beyond 2012 to establish new targets and a plan for achieving them.

Dave Glover
As for specific targets I need to figure out what the existing targets are and how close we are to those in order that I may best determine a specific deadline for targets to be met both for 2014 and thru to 2020.

John Henderson
I would recommend to council that our GHG reduction target for the Town of Cobourg be 3% each year. At the end of 2014 that would be a 12% decrease and an 18% decrease by 2020 (a 30% reduction overall). I feel that this is a realistic target because on the world stage Canada would have to reduce its emissions by 4.45% to achieve a global sustainability of 2.1 worlds whereas presently we are at 7.1 worlds, which is 3.4 times higher. I feel that as a town, we should lead by example and perhaps be a leader for other municipalities

Bill MacDonald
See answer above.

Miriam Mutton
I would also recommend that Council discuss and set goals during its start of term visioning sessions and check on its progress before each budget annually. We need to establish where we are, how well we have been doing in recent years and expand on successes and work on failures. In the long term, I would focus on measurable achievements through policy. In the short term, I would seek out simple starting points that can quickly and clearly illustrate changes that are needed, and, make change informative and fun. The Town could designate a fund from utility company profits to assist in the reduction of GHGs and promotion of good ideas towards the reduction of GHG. As for a GHG reduction target, we are speaking of a necessary change in lifestyle for Canadians. It has to be a global goal since numbers or credits will likely be bought and sold.

Martin Partridge
In all candor, I am not able to say what GHG reduction targets might be reasonable for Cobourg. What I can promise is that if I am elected Councilor, I will endeavour to keep GHG emission issues at the forefront of every pertinent discussion. In my everyday life, I am conscious of footprint issues at all times. It will be natural for me to blend this personal focus into government discussions.

Forrest Rowden
See answer above.

Manfred Schumann
See answer above.

Larry Sherwin
The target should be…well, that’s hard. Our world and country is battling with this and until something is done to stop the flow of harmful gases from the USA, no target is reachable.

Donna Todd
See answer above.

About Sustainable Cobourg

Sustainable Cobourg is a citizens group in Cobourg, Ontario who advocate for more sustainable ways of living by organizing local environmental projects, educating and increasing the public's understanding of the environment and its importance.
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