—- Municipal Candidate Survey —- BRENDA RHODES

Bracebridge — District Councillor

1.     What actions have you personally taken to support a greener, more sustainable climate?

I am extremely lucky. I am of an age where the environment and climate change have been top of mind for my full life – Stop Acid Rain Campaign and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle era. Also, my father was a HUGE advocate for being stewards of the environment. Our family were early adopters of recycling and composting, and I was taught how to save turtles on the road, to respect our natural environment and all the creatures on this earth (including bugs).

Although I know there is more that I can do, I try to make adjustments and improvements every day. Currently, this is what I do:

  • I am a vegan
  • I have volunteered for Friends of Muskoka Watershed as their Secretary – supported Ash Muskoka Project (reduction of road salt and health of our forests)
  • I have collected ash for the Ash Project (before I moved)
  • I support groups like Friends of Muskoka and the Muskoka Watershed Council
  • I supported Kevin Boyle, Climate Change Initiative Coordinator by having him speak at the Rotary Club of Bracebridge and through the Chamber of Commerce
  • I use energy saving lighting
  • I unplug electronics when I don’t use them
  • I wash my laundry in cold water
  • I turn out lights when not needed
  • I grew my own food (before I moved)
  • I try to buy foods with less packaging
  • I drink tap water and try not to use plastic bottles when hosting meetings (not always easy or successful)
  • I am a food police in my house – if we buy it, we eat it!
  • I believe it is extremely important to compost (green bin and other)
  • I try to repair, reuse and donate items as much as possible
  • I have talked about creating a Sustainability Committee with all the Chambers of Commerce in Muskoka to support the business community in making changes
  • I use containers for my lunch instead of plastic sandwich bags and other single use products
  • I bring my reusable bags to the grocery store (when I remember!)
  • I have tried to reduce the time I spend in the shower

2.     What opportunities for climate leadership at the municipal level (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)) would you champion in one or more of these areas: Buildings | Housing | Land use (sprawl) | Transportation | Other

When we are talking about the environment, greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability, we need to make sure ALL our decisions are viewed through an environment/sustainability lens. That it is a multi-pronged and connected approach – so I would be championing all the listed areas.

  • I believe that housing will be and needs to be the main issue of this next Council:
  • Buildings
  • Housing
  • Land use (sprawl)
  • Transportation
  • Moving the New Leaf Muskoka’s Climate Strategy plan forward with scheduled reviews and adjustments
  • Work with groups like Climate Action Muskoka to help with planning and education

3.     A long-term problem requires a long-term solution. What is your 100-year plan? If elected, what would be your first action?

My 100-year plan is to ensure Muskoka’s environment is healthier than it is today and we take every measure to try to obtain this goal. We know that our natural environment is our bread and butter. We need to make sure that we leave Muskoka in good shape for future generations to build a life, work and enjoy.

Some actions that I will take moving forward are:

  • Continue to work with groups like Climate Action Muskoka to continue to learn and put into action solutions to help with climate change
  • Support work that involves monitoring of our forests, lakes, and rivers
  • Support road salt reduction and studies to map our environmental health
  • Push for regularly scheduled reviews, and planning for retrofit or expansion of any municipal infrastructure
  • Help spread the word about initiatives: one of the promises I make to the public is to help them understand what Councils are working on, and engage in back-and-forth communication with our constituents
  • Continuously advocate to ensure we are moving forward with the recommendations in A New Leaf Muskoka’s Climate Strategy 112-point plan
  • Advocate for coordinated interdepartmental actions on climate adaptation to help inform planning and infrastructure decisions by the District Council and Town of Bracebridge
  • Investigate what other successful communities are doing and propose changes/additions to our plans
  • Encourage the construction of energy-neutral housing and other buildings in Muskoka
  • Advocate for active transportation in our community
  • And more…

The first action I will take is to meet with Climate Action Muskoka to understand your top priorities, followed by understanding where the District of Muskoka is at with the 112 recommendations.

If elected, I look forward to working with Climate Action Muskoka and other organizations so I can learn more and ensure I am educated and able to be the strong voice looking through an environmental/sustainable lens when deciding on any issue.