Re-Imagining the Future: Climate Action Muskoka Launches Vision

This is the first submission in the Re-Imagining Series from Climate Action MuskokaMuskokaRegion.com

Imagine a future where we are no longer staring down a climate crisis but are experiencing a drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere, where the health and well-being of people in an equitable and resilient Muskoka are reflected in communities around the world, and where a global response to what was once a heating planet has been achieved.

Imagine our Muskoka filled with small, thriving, locally-supported businesses and hundreds of green energy and care sector living-wage jobs — where everyone has an affordable, sustainable home built or retrofitted with carbon sequestering materials — a Muskoka powered by locally produced electric power.

Imagine walking or cycling to services from your neighbourhood, visiting neighbouring communities via a network of paved, separated and safe cycling lanes. Imagine no more noisy, internal combustion engines, quiet streets and lakes, an accessible public transport system, an inexpensive train service linking us to communities both near and far.

Imagine urban agriculture within easy walking or cycling distance of our homes where we can work our own plot, buy fresh, local, organic produce, or subscribe to a regular delivery of produce to our homes — a Muskoka where feeding ourselves means food no longer travels long distances or is at the whim of constant price rises. Imagine a tourism economy thriving on ecotourism in a protected and cherished world class destination.

Imagine a future in which we no longer worry about our children’s and grandchildren’s future, because we ensured it would be safe 20 years ago when we took action in 2021.

We know the path we are on now is unsustainable. We know we need to set out on a new path. Join our inspired Climate Action Muskoka team of contributors on a journey as they look to Muskoka in 2030, 2040, and onwards. Through a series of columns, they will be Re-Imagining the Future and capturing the steps we need to take now in order to get there.

From their diverse areas of expertise, our writers will help us imagine a decarbonized, equitable and resilient Muskoka. They will motivate us to see our opportunities as individuals, as communities, and as elected officials to get to where we need to go. Seeing what that future could look like makes it easier for us to embrace the changes needed now to get there.

Impossible you say? We are at a crossroad with opportunities like never before. We have the solutions. Join us as we explore the possibilities within our own Muskoka communities.

Imagine what a collective difference we could create in Muskoka if our very first step is to take up the Community Carbon Challenge (CCC) and reduce our own carbon footprint 50 per cent by 2030: climateactionmuskoka.org

In the words of Christiana Figueres, key architect of the Paris Accord, “Impossible is not a fact. It is an attitude.”

Linda Mathers -Thursday, March 11, 2021

Linda Mathers is a retired teacher, advocate and longtime volunteer working for a future for her grandchildren.

Find links to all the columns in the series –here

Who Are The Rabble Rousers To Watch In 2021?

Fridays For Future weekly climate strikers before the covid19 lockdown
Bracebridge, Muskoka, Ontario

Why Muskoka Declared a Climate Emergency

Maya Bhullar – March 4, 2021

In 2020, amidst the pandemic, the district government of Muskoka declared a climate emergency and endorsed a plan which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and take them down to zero by 2050. This is a region which votes staunchly conservative every provincial and federal election. Who made this happen and how did they do it? The organization behind the curtain working tirelessly to make these changes are the “rabble rousers to watch” at Climate Action Muskoka. Here is what I learned in my interview with rabble rousers Sue McKenzie and Linda Mathers from Climate Action Muskoka.  Read the whole storyhere


Listen to Sue McKenzie and Linda Mathers speak with Maya Bhullar about how they organized to have their municipality declare a climate emergency on rabble radio- here.

Fossil Banks? No Thanks!

National Day of Action, Friday January 29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Monday January 25, 2021 

MUSKOKA – Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) activists are joining forces with groups all across Canada on Friday, January 29 to say Fossil Banks? No Thanks! to the Big 5 Canadian banks. CAM is inviting everyone to call, fax, and email their local bank branches to protest the Big 5 banks’ ongoing destructive fossil fuel investments and loans.  

“This is our opportunity to act locally by adding our voices to amplify the national Fossil Banks, No Thanks campaign,” says Sue McKenzie, CAM co-founder.  

Canadian banks are among the biggest investors in fossil fuels worldwide and have poured $481 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement, according to the 2020 Banking on Climate Change Fossil Fuel Finance Report. The breakdown of fossil investments for each bank are as follows: TD $43.7 billion, RBC $40.1 billion, SCOTIA $39.1 billion, BMO $36.7 billion, and CIBC $32.4 billion. Three Canadian banks have even made the “Dirty Dozen” Worst Banks Since the Paris Agreement (2015-2019) list. The tar sands are completely reliant on Canadian banks. 

While recent stay-at-home orders keep climate protesters out of the streets, the banks keep pumping money into fossil fuels. While the rest of us are sacrificing to keep our communities safe, the Big 5 are making new loans and investments that are putting the well-being of future generations at risk. 

“Slowing climate change is one of the most important things I can do to ensure a bright future for my daughter,” says Matt Lie-Paehlke of Climate Pledge Collective, explaining why he has stepped away from his PHD work to do climate work. “I’ve put aside other goals to help people lower their carbon footprint and get involved in politics – but the flood of money coming out of RBC and other big banks outweighs any small gains I might achieve.” 

CAM is also asking Muskokans to join the ongoing BankSwitch campaign https://actionnetwork.org/forms/bankswitch.  

“The main goal of this campaign is to challenge banks to compete for our custom by cleaning up their own investment policies, not just through greenwashing projects, but by moving investments away from fossil fuels,” states McKenzie. 

The concept is simple. You tell your branch manager you’re moving your money to a more responsible financial institution on Earth Day, April 2021. Hopefully, you won’t have to make this move if your bank steps up and makes substantial changes to its investment policies. You will find specific information, letter templates for each Bank, and talking points for speaking with bank managers here: climatepledgecollective.org. 

CAM is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka. climateactionmuskoka.org 

DISTRICT PASSES – A NEW LEAF: MUSKOKA’S CLIMATE STRATEGY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MUSKOKA – On Monday, December 21, the darkest day of 2020, Muskoka District Council brought light, hope, and the best Christmas present ever to the people of Muskoka, unanimously passing A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy to address the Climate Crisis, with a goal of ensuring a safe, just and healthy future.

District Council unanimously passing A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy

“This strategy names the Climate Crisis as an emergency, requiring immediate action,” said Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) spokesperson, Melinda Zytaruk, in support of the proposal. “It brings strong policy leadership and firm targets which put climate action at the fore-front of all decision-making.”

She stated that A New Leaf also provides for strong partnership between the community and the District, and praised the work of Kevin Boyle, Climate Initiatives Coordinator and his team.

Zytaruk urged the District to make immediate policy changes in 2021 requiring decarbonization of all new builds in Muskoka and retro-fitting of existing buildings, conversion of the District fleet to electric with provision of District-wide charging infrastructure, and finally promotion of low-carbon leisure activities through the development of active infrastructure for walking, biking, hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing etc.

“Listening to the recent delegations from CAM has prompted us to consider the opportunity to bring forward a more comprehensive, collaborative strategy for your consideration,” Christy Doyle, Director of Environmental & Watershed Programs, told Council. She pointed out that doing anything meaningful requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

A New Leaf, includes the District government’s plan to reduce its own carbon footprint, the MCCAP. It also embraces as a guiding framework the strong Climate Emergency resolution brought to the Council by CAM:  a greater than 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, reaching zero by 2050, development of a Community Climate Action Plan (CAP), with input from a diverse, representative Community Working Group, which will regularly review and update the CAP.

Councillor Nancy Alcock, urged all councillors to sign up individually on the CAM website to take the 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge to demonstrate leadership on climate to their constituents.

The District now joins countries, municipalities, businesses and individual citizens around the world in raising its ambition to address the Climate Crisis ahead of the 2021 COP26 international climate conference. Some countries have revised their decarbonization goals upwards, noting that 50% by 2030 is now considered insufficient to keep the heating below the 1.5C degrees over pre-industrial levels.

[See a PDF of the presentation to council here and the report to committee which includes a copy of A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy here.]

CAM is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka.

climateactionmuskoka.org  climateactionmuskoka@gmail.com

Climate Emergency resolution is on its way back to Muskoka District Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MUSKOKA – Climate Action Muskoka’s (CAM) ambitious Climate Emergency resolution is on its way back to Muskoka District Council as part of the District’s A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy after the report received unanimous support from the District Community and Planning Services committee (CPSC) at its meeting Thursday.

“This is a bold climate framework for Muskoka with timelines, goals and broad community input. It acknowledges the important role both the District of Muskoka and the community must play together to address the mounting climate crisis,” said Sue McKenzie, co-founder of CAM after the meeting. 

The report, developed by Kevin Boyle, the District’s Climate Change Initiatives Co-ordinator, Christy Doyle, Director of Environmental and Watershed Programs, and the MCCAP Steering committee includes the detailed Muskoka Corporate Climate Action Plan (MCCAP).

Committee chair, councillor Nancy Alcock, suggested that staff needs to hold Council’s feet to the fire to ensure the strategy is implemented.

“This isn’t us holding Council’s feet to the fire,” responded Boyle. “This is everybody holding everybody’s feet to the fire. This is a co-ordinated effort that crosses all departments in the District. This is Council holding staff’s feet to the fire, community groups holding staff and Council’s feet to the fire. It’s the Watershed Council and Climate Action Muskoka. It’s a unified approach that means we move these actions forward.”

Councillors expressed enthusiasm about the possibility of taking the climate strategy back to their area municipal councils.

“!’m so amazed to see how quickly this morphed from a plan into a strategy,” said councillor Mike Peppard. “I very much look forward to seeing how this can go to the area municipalities and how we can work with this plan instead of reinventing the wheel.”

A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy will come before Muskoka District Council on Monday, December 21 for a final vote.

CAM invites citizens, groups and businesses to join its community-wide project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030.  Sign up to take the 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge. https://www.climateactionmuskoka.org/

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka who believe in working together to inspire individuals, groups, and every level of government to make the dramatic changes needed to meet this historic climate challenge.

Sue McKenzie for CAM

Watered Down Climate Emergency Declaration Passed By District — CAM Expresses Disappointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MUSKOKA – On Monday October 19, 2020, the District Council of Muskoka unanimously passed a watered-down Climate Emergency Declaration.  The resolution passed was not the same resolution put forward by Climate Action Muskoka (CAM).

Although Melinda Zytaruk made an extensive presentation to Council on behalf of CAM, the resolution finally voted on was a weakened, rewritten motion put up to replace the stronger CAM resolution, despite the fact that many councillors had previously declared they were unwilling to pass a resolution that was meaningless.

“It constitutes a mere token declaration with no ‘teeth’, no goals, no community input, no plan, in short, nothing to hold the District of Muskoka to addressing the mounting climate crisis,” said Sue McKenzie, co-founder of CAM after the meeting.  

“Declaring there is a climate emergency with no commitments attached is like saying the earth is round or photosynthesis happens,” Zytaruk added.

The motion to pass the CAM Resolution received strong support from a number of councillors. Mover of the motion Councillor Peppard spoke of the need to have firm targets and seconder Councillor Alcock urged the council to see the merit in viewing all decision-making through a climate lens. Councillor Glover said he intended to take a similar resolution to Lake of Bays Council.

“I think it’s extremely important that we recognize that the climate situation actually IS an emergency because of the scale of challenge in front of us,” said Councillor Koetzier. He spoke ardently of the need to take real action now pointing out that the Township of Georgian Bay declared a climate emergency early in 2020.

Others applauded the collaborative work done by CAM with District staff, the Muskoka Watershed Council and councillors to develop the resolution. Chair John Klink recognized the work done to achieve widespread community endorsement.

McKenzie pointed out that the CAM resolution was shelved along with its action items:  to develop a Community Action Plan (CAP); to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030, reaching zero by 2050; to support a diverse Community Working Group to provide input and review to the CAP; to collaborate with other parties to develop standards and protocols in line with climate mitigation.

“The bottom line is that the councillors who did NOT support a Climate Emergency resolution with real goals and actions built in, procedurally out-manouevred those councillors who wanted to see the District take real action,” according to McKenzie.

“Of course, our CAM members are profoundly disappointed after working collaboratively for a year to bring a strong resolution to Council,” McKenzie declared. “The District has missed this opportunity to move forward with the community and has placed the responsibility for developing their corporate and community Climate Action plans back in the hands of their staff.  It is our hope the staff will include the substantial action items we have been discussing with them.”

CAM will continue working with and in the community to educate and encourage citizens, businesses and groups to take up the challenge of addressing the climate crisis and the need to take urgent action.

Last week CAM launched it new project 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge where individuals and households can pledge to reduce their carbon footprint 8% a year to reach the goal of a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. https://www.climateactionmuskoka.org/

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka who believe in working together to inspire individuals, groups, and every level of government to make the dramatic changes needed to meet this historic climate challenge.

-30-

Sue McKenzie for CAM

Community Carbon Challenge — Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2020

Community-Carbon-Challenge-Logo

MUSKOKA – Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) is launching its 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge today (Saturday, October 10, 2020). Individuals, families, businesses, organizations and schools can take the pledge and develop an action plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 8% a year until the year 2030. The challenge can be taken up by seasonal and year-round residents alike.

“We must act where we can have direct influence, in our own community,” says CAM member Linda Mathers.  “COVID has taught us that collective behaviour matters, that we need to take the science seriously and that we need to act now.”

50% by 2030 is the goal CAM is asking the District of Muskoka to assume in a Climate Emergency resolution to be brought before the full District Council on Monday, October 19.

You can sign up on the climateactionmuskoka.org website.  There you will find a user-friendly carbon calculator which has been specifically designed for this area by Climate Change & Energy Specialist Ben John of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve (GBBR).

The calculator will assess your building, transportation and solid waste emissions and compare your totals with others in Ontario and Canada. Redoing the tracker annually will allow you to measure your success with reducing emissions.

An added bonus is that your anonymous data will be added to the community GHG inventory currently being conducted by the District of Muskoka, under the guidance of Kevin Boyle, the Climate Change Initiatives Co-ordinator.

If you prefer not to do the calculator right now, you can jump straight to the sections offering practical ideas for you to implement.

“We believe community engagement is vital to solving the climate crisis,” says Mathers. “We also believe that it is better to take ‘imperfect action rather than perfect inaction’!”

On the website you can also add to the list of things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.  New strategies will be added regularly as we grow our commitment to changing our behaviours in carbon reducing ways.

CAM is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka who believe in working together to inspire individuals, groups, and every level of government to make the dramatic changes needed to meet this historic climate challenge.

CAM believes ‘it takes a village’ and in this spirit we invite you to join us in the 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge. Visit our website climateactionmuskoka.org and take up the challenge. For more information write to climateactionmuskoka@gmail.com.

-30-

Sue McKenzie for Climate Action Muskoka 647 884-1531

South Muskoka CAM Media contacts:  Sue McKenzie 647 884-1531 lensue@hotmail.com                                                                                         Linda Mathers 705 765-5772 mathers@muskoka.com

Huntsville CAM Media Contact:  Lesley Hastie 705 789-7143   hastielesley@gmail.com

Climate Emergency – Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2020

MUSKOKA – Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) will be presenting its Climate Emergency Declaration resolution to Muskoka District Council Monday, October 19 at 3 pm. CAM member Melinda Zytaruk will delegate digitally on behalf of CAM to the Council, after which a vote to declare a Climate Emergency will take place.

“The community first called for the District to declare a Climate Emergency last September during the Global Climate strike” says Sue McKenzie. “This declaration is vital to setting Muskoka on a speedy decarbonization of our community to help keep global heating to 1.5C.”

Endorsements of the resolution have come in from community leaders, businesses, groups and individuals. CAM invites everyone to visit its website this week to view the list of endorsements and to add your name, business or group here: https://www.climateactionmuskoka.org/endorsements-declaration-of-climate-emergency/

CAM is also launching its 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge this weekend inviting the Muskoka community to match the same reduction of greenhouse gas goals being asked of the District of Muskoka. You can read about that and join the challenge on the website climateactionmuskoka.org.

CAM is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka.

-30-

Sue McKenzie for Climate Action Muskoka

647 884-1531

Live interviews with CAM members

You won’t want to miss these three interviews as our neighbors in Haliburton reach out to hear about Climate Action in Muskoka and the Ontario Green Party leader reaches out to our own resident expert to learn more about building green. Great job Sue, Linda, Tamsen and Melinda.


No Planet “B” Webinar – September 25, 202o – on you tube
hosted by Environment Haliburton!
Panelists: Muskoka Watershed Council member Peter Sale, CAM member Sue McKenzie, and Terry Moore discuss the climate crisis and activism in Muskoka


PLANET HALIBURTON – EPISODE 74 – SEP 25, 2020
BY: TERRY MOORE | CANOE FM
“On this PH episode we explore local climate change planning activism with two representatives of Climate Action Muskoka (CAM), Linda Mathers and Tamsen Tillson


Build Back Greener: Live with Mike – Sept 24, 2020 – on you tube
Melinda Zytaruk, CAM member and community power expert, chats with Mike Schreiner about how we can #BuildBackGreener and create new opportunities for women in trades.


Invitation: 50 Ways to Flatten the Climate Curve and Make Life Sustainable

Submit your exhibit ideas for the Muskoka Discovery Centre | Deadline July 8

Climate Action Muskoka supporters, let’s put our creative talents to work.

We have been invited to brainstorm ideas for compelling, provocative, hands-on exhibits that will educate visitors to the Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre in Gravenhurst by challenging visitors’ understanding of the threats of climate change and motivate them to participate in sustainable and regenerative actions.

The criteria for exhibit ideas includes:

  • Provocative, challenging the status quo, and envisioning a sustainable and regenerative future
  • Hands-on, interactive, engaging any or all age groups
  • Visitors leave challenged to make personal changes in their behaviour.
  • Visitors leave determined to demand and support climate action at all levels.

Professional designers will develop the exhibits. We have been asked to generate the ideas. The theme is structured around 50 Ways to Flatten the Climate Curve and Make Life Sustainable.

Some exhibit ideas already suggested:

  • Building and retrofitting for the future Choose from a selection of building materials to build your house and get an embodied carbon emission score for each material chosen.
  • Intersectionality and Climate Solutions A large sustainability web, like a spider’s web, displaying connections between social, environmental, economic, low carbon and infrastructure sustainability pieces. Remove or weaken one piece and see how it affects the others.
  • Pick a path to your holiday destination in Muskoka. What would it look like? Compare emissions from a current weekend in Muskoka to a new alternative with train/public transit, shuttle, non-motorized recreation such as canoeing, biking, hiking, skiing.
  • Climate Tipping Points: Where are we now? Large global map with push buttons to light up information on regions (Greenland, Antarctic, Arctic Amazon Rainforests etc.) Links to how this impacts Muskoka.

Make a difference by contributing your ideas.Please send your submission by July 8th, 2020. Email climateactionmuskoka@gmail.com. Please put ‘Discovery Centre Submission’ in the subject line.

This is an incredible opportunity to impact climate change behaviours in our community and beyond in transformative ways.

We are grateful to the Muskoka Discovery Centre and Rick Zytaruk for the invitation to collaborate on this important issue.