By Chad Ingram
Dysart et al councillors agreed upon greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for the municipality as part of the County of Haliburton’s climate change mitigation plan during their Feb. 25 meeting.
Council was visited by county planner and deputy chief administrative officer Charlsey White and climate change co-ordinator Korey McKay. McKay was hired by the county late last year and will be compiling the plan during the next couple of years. The first phase looks strictly at the corporate operations of each of the five local municipal governments – the upper tier of the county and its four lower-tier municipalities – and how those operations can become more sustainable in terms of generating fewer emissions.
The first step in that process is to have each of those municipal governments set aspirational targets in terms of emissions reductions. For the county as a whole the waste sitting in the townships’ landfills by far constitutes the greatest amount of overall emissions at 77.3 per cent. Municipal vehicle fleets produce 16.1 per cent of emissions municipal buildings 6.4 per cent and water and waste water systems 0.2 per cent. As for the municipal governments the smallest percentage of emissions is generated by the County of Haliburton which does not oversee landfill operations at 5.5 per cent. For the four lower-tier townships whose operations include landfills their share of emissions essentially break down along lines of population. Dysart et al generates 29.5 per cent cent of emissions; Minden Hills 27.1 per cent; Highlands East 21.4 per cent; and Algonquin Highlands 16.5 per cent.
Emission levels collected from 2018 data will be used as a baseline and the target year for reductions is 2030. Dysart et al’s population is expected to grow by nearly 17 per cent by then with emissions levels expected to rise 18 per cent if no action is taken before then.
The total corporate emissions for the Municipality of Dysart et al total 4623 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually or the equivalent of 982 passenger vehicles driven each year or the energy use of 554 homes for one year. Five per cent of Dysart’s emissions come from its buildings nine per cent from its vehicle fleet and 86 per cent from its landfills.
Emissions reductions in buildings can be achieved through means such as environmentally friendly retrofits the incorporation of LED lighting etc. Reductions for vehicle fleets can be achieved through anti-idling policies – McKay said some municipalities have achieved up to a 20 per cent reduction through addressing idling – as well as purchasing vehicles that use hybrid technology or electricity etc.
For landfills reductions can be achieved through promoting better recycling and waste diversion habits. Waste buried in landfills emits high levels of methane which is far more potent that carbon dioxide. Composting which residents are encouraged to practise at home introduces oxygen to process and so creates far fewer emissions than when organic material is buried.
It was McKay’s recommendation that for Dysart et al a reduction target of 20 per cent by 2030 be set for its buildings; 10 per cent for its vehicle fleet; and 80 per cent for its landfills. This latter figure is so high because Dysart et al is set to close three landfills – on Industrial Park Road in Haliburton Village in West Guilford and at Kennisis Lake – by 2030 with waste being transferred outside of the community.
Dysart et al has been selling composters and digesters (used for meats and other products) to residents at a rate of cost recovery to help encourage at-home composting.
“You’ve already started to take some of those steps” White told councillors.
McKay said that educational materials will be developed at the county level for use by the lower-tier governments.
“The idea is to work together and not duplicate efforts” she said.
Councillor John Smith said it was fine to set targets but was more difficult to gauge them.
“The challenge with these things is measuring the degree of success” Smith said. “ . . . How do you do that?”
“Embedded in the plan will likely be collecting better data and how we go about that” McKay said.
Smith also suggested that Dysart et al make it policy to forbid its employees from going through a drive-through restaurant in a municipal vehicle to help reduce emissions produced from idling.
Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy did express some concern about whether the municipality would be able to reach the target established for its vehicle fleet noting that the fleet is not large that more vehicles had recently been added and the effects of climate change on roads has created more demand for increased roads work.
Council adopted the targets recommended by McKay.