THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay residents will have the chance to weigh in as the city updates its environmental sustainability plan.
The plan has shaped municipal efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, make the community more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and build a greener and more walkable city.
A survey will be available at the city's Get Involved website through Jan. 31, and will conduct more in-depth consultation in the New Year, with the new sustainability plan expected to be finalized by summer.
The existing plan, which covers the period 2014 to 2020, was developed by the city’s EarthCare sustainability committee with input from community working groups and public consultations.
Amy Coomes, the city’s sustainability coordinator, believes that already high level of interest has only grown in the years since the plan was first written.
“I think there’s definitely more awareness of climate change,” she said. “A lot of people are looking for ways to [take action].”
The plan includes goals like limiting urban sprawl, reducing solid waste, tracking climate change at the local level, and cutting GHG emissions. It sets out actions to reach those goals for both the municipal government and the wider community.
The document has helped spark real movement on many of those priorities, Coomes expressed.
“So many of the actions listed on these pages have been implemented since 2014,” she said.
Notably, the city exceeded the plan’s target of cutting emissions from municipal operations by 20 per cent by 2020, compared to 2009 levels.
The renewed plan will update targets like that one, and put renewed focus on other goals that haven’t been met.
Emissions for the community as a whole, for example, rose by 22 per cent between 2009 and 2016, heading in the opposite direction from the plan’s 20 per cent reduction target. That prompted the creation of the city’s net-zero strategy.
As well as the survey, the city plans to hold public workshops and other consultation opportunities in the New Year, Coomes said, including the ability to provide feedback on a draft of the renewed plan before it's presented to city council for approval.
The city aims to have the process complete by the summer of 2022.