In the spring of 2019 I introduced a motion to Council to declare a climate emergency. This action was intended to strengthen and reaffirm the importance and need for climate change action. It was also intended to endorse and reaffirm the City’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promote resiliency in our city through various initiatives. The motion to declare a Climate Emergency was deferred at that time and Council instead requested a staff report regarding Richmond Hill’s actions so far and any planned future actions to address Climate Change in our community. The staff report that ensued can be viewed here.
In response to this staff report I was able to introduce a motion to outline a number of actions I believe our community needs to take in order to take a leadership role in addressing future impacts of Climate Change and to also provide resilience against any current impacts. The full text of the motion that I introduced can be found here
13.8 SRPRS.20.011- Richmond Hill Climate Change Actions
Moved by: Councillor West
Seconded by: Councillor Cilevitz
a) That Council receive SRPRS.20.011 for information and acknowledge with appreciation for the work staff has undertaken thus far.
b) That the development of the City’s Corporate Climate Change Framework and Community Energy and Emissions Plan include an examination of the following directions and programs for implementation:
i. Application of a climate change lens to the City’s policies, plans and programs, where applicable, and identify through staff reports how climate change mitigation and/or adaptation has been considered;
ii. Undertaking a GHG inventory for Richmond Hill and identify targets and timeframes for GHG emission reductions
iii. Options and incentives to enable home/building energy efficiency retrofits to conserve energy use, save money and reduce GHG emissions;
iv. Options to promote private property resilience such as connecting homeowners to flood protection assessment programs and other resources to help safeguard homes from extreme weather events;
v. Options for the electrification of some of the City’s fleet vehicles and tools to support the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in public and private developments to encourage low carbon transportation options;
vi. Enhancement of capacity in the community to implement climate change actions by developing a climate change community outreach toolkit and a climate leaders’ training/recognition program.
vii. Provision of additional incentives through the Sustainability Metrics Program for sustainable design features that support climate change mitigation;
viii. Joining the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for the purpose of learning from cities around world to help inform our work on climate change;
ix. Investigation of available grant funding to implement any of the foregoing actions.
x. Staff strongly encourage the inclusion of e-charging infrastructure for each and every parking space in all medium and high density development applications.
In collaboration with the community, Richmond Hill is preparing a Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) – a comprehensive look at our community’s energy consumption patterns with the goals of reducing emissions and promoting related economic opportunities and benefits. The CEEP will explore mitigation options that save energy costs for residents and businesses. Recommendations from the CEEP will also identify other tools (e.g. policies, incentives, etc.) to encourage energy conservation, sustainable development and green technology in Richmond Hill. Since spring 2019, a number of community engagement activities have taken place to increase awareness about climate change and encourage participation from the community. This two-year project is expected to be complete in 2021 when recommendations will be brought forward. As part of implementation, we will be asking for help from community groups and individuals to reach out to other citizens and share ideas on how they can reduce their GHG emissions and increase their home or property’s resiliency to climate change. I am proud that this motion passed unanimously and I fully expect that this will signal additional efforts to be an environmentally sustainable community.