County, townships tackle climate change

By James Matthews
Highlands East’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by two per cent.
Korey McKay, Haliburton County’s climate change coordinator, updated Highlands East council Feb. 14 about the progress made countywide to address climate change.
She said emissions in Highlands East have increased by two per cent since the baseline year of 2018. There was a significant decrease in emissions in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
“So they don’t necessarily represent long-term trends,” McKay said.
The region is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. There’s been more extreme precipitation events with longer dry spells in between. There’s more extreme storms, including ice storms and thunderstorms.
Future climate projections indicate that these impacts will become more frequent and intense over the coming decades.
According to a county progress report provided to town council, adapting to extreme weather, protecting natural assets, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will improve community health and wellbeing. It will generate job opportunities, decrease energy costs, and avoid long-term costs from future damage from climate impacts.
The county and its four lower tier municipalities are working on a three-phased climate change planning process.
A corporate climate change mitigation plan was approved in 2020. It’s part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations. Electric vehicle charging stations have been installed in all communities, and townships have also adopted green fleet policies.
Corporate climate change adaptation by each municipality’s council includes work to map flood plains and communication efforts on water levels and the presence of invasive species.
Much headway has been made toward altering behaviour to be more climate friendly.
The county and each municipality partnered with the Ivy Network to install five Level 2 charging stations in the community with 10 spots to plug in.
Algonquin Highlands, Dysart and Minden Hills conducted FoodCycler pilot programs which provided an in-home composting alternative for 300 households.
Dysart, Highlands East and Minden Hills continue to sell backyard composters to residents.
The county and local municipalities have completed LED lighting upgrades and incorporated energy efficiency measures such as added insulation at municipal buildings.
“We have completed lots of community engagement,” she said, through advisory groups, reaching out to residents, and liaising with other organizations working on climate change in some form.