SC: Sustainability – what does this mean to you, with respect to Cobourg, and how would you ensure that these issues are addressed in your term as a Councillor?
GLW: To me, sustainability is an action, behaviour or practice that can continually achieve its purpose without harming our earth or the lives of future generations and maintains a balance with our natural systems. To be effective, I think it needs to be based on the three pillars of Sustainability: social sustainability, environmental sustainability and economic sustainability. I propose that we create a “Sustainability Officer” whose job it would be to implement, monitor and report on Cobourg’s plans whether it’s The Official Plan, Community Sustainability Plan (which is a requirement of the Official Plan), Climate Action Plan, Marina Expansion Plan, or the Cobourg Community Centre Campus Expansion Plan. There is no clear champion for sustainability within Cobourg’s municipal government as it stands so consequently sustainability issues have fallen through the cracks. My plan for a Sustainability Officer would address these shortcomings.
SC: 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 6 years (by 2020) to address climate change issues. If elected to 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? What GHG reduction target will you set for Cobourg for the end of your Council term?
GLW: In 2007, according to Cobourg’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions inventory, the largest contributor was the industrial sector, producing 34% of all GHG emissions. So it is a clear indication of where we need to start. In 2007, from the same report, Cobourg’s goal was to reduce its GHG emissions by 11.8% by 2012. Did we achieve that? No one seems to know. So it is clear to me that we need someone in charge of finding this out. And I will make sure, in my capacity as Councillor, that the position of ‘Sustainability Officer’ is in place to keep us on track and informed.
Overall, our GHG emissions in 2008 rose by 5.3% since 1990 and was projected to be 5.8% by 2012. But we don’t know.
The information to help our citizens choose sustainable/green alternatives should be included on the town’s website. I would make this a priority. In addition we need another GHG inventory and we need ‘action’ for The Climate Action Plan. These proactive goals need to be on view on the town’s website and at Victoria Hall. Apparently, we have received a couple of awards for sustainable practices from The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and no one knows about them! Why not?
I would like us to reach a target of 12% reduction by the end of my term on council, and I think it will be totally doable if we build on the actions I have outlined.
SC: Town planning – amendments to the Cobourg Official Plan require the development of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) for the town. This plan will address water and energy conservation, air quality protection, waste reduction, environmental monitoring and taking various other initiatives. If elected to Council what deadline will you propose for completing this plan? What resources will you propose for its completion? How will you involve the community in the development of this plan?
GLW: This is a question we asked the last time we had a municipal election. Did the answers of the candidates then, bear any fruit? Do we have an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan in Place? Establishing a ‘Sustainability Charter’ could be one of the cornerstones on which to build the ICSP, and we need a dedicated Sustainability Officer to do this. Please let’s not go down the road of ever more consultants. I should think that the S.O. could work together with GRCA and our utility company, as well as collaborating with the county, and let’s not forget our NGO’s like Sustainable Cobourg and its affiliates. I would ear-mark some of the gas-tax monies Cobourg gets to budget for this as well as money from our utility company dividends in order to fund participatory events. The public is crucial to making this work. The S.O.’s mandate would be to do outreach on a monthly basis with our citizens by way of a community meeting with speakers that will highlight the town’s sustainability objectives. We will find strength and support in an informed and engaged public.
I would want this plan done by 2016!
SC: Transportation – has for many years been designed for automobile usage at the expense of other forms of transportation. This has caused many problems related to health and climate change. If elected to Council what would you do to promote and action changes to the transportation systems within Cobourg? As “active transportation” (cycling, walking, in-line skating, etc.) has emerged as one possible solution, how would you ensure that Cobourg continues to improve the Town for active transportation? Would you be prepared to sign a pledge to support active transportation within Cobourg?
GLW: Just by renaming a committee to ‘Active Transportation Committee’, means to me that we are at least creating a ‘critical mass’ in terms of raising awareness of the necessity for this shift. It’s a little thing but it’s BIG! Cycling infrastructure is crucial to supporting an active cycling community. Cobourg, with the help of many interested stakeholders, has moved considerably in making this a reality. But we can do more, and better. Perhaps we could entertain the idea of having a pedestrian (just no cars) core. It’s done in many countries very successfully. Think about it. It would cut down on GHG emissions. It would promote healthy activity. It would be relaxing. If we envisioned something like that for say, the Tannery Site, where we would have mixed housing, shops, community garden, all-year farmers’ market, open air performance stage (for our poets and singers and talkers), outdoor cafes, artscapes, energy provided by green energy sources like solar and geo-thermal, things built to LEED specs…wow, taking a derelict area, abandoned for decades and turning it into a vibrant, socially, economically and environmentally sustainable community, now that would really make Cobourg a ‘Feel Good Town’.
I will definitely sign a pledge to support active transportation in Cobourg.