Bracebridge — Mayor
1. What actions have you personally taken to support a greener, more sustainable climate?
My wife Jennifer and I were early adopters of CAM’s Community Carbon Challenge and have pledged to reduce our carbon footprint by 8% per year with our goal of a 50% reduction by 2030. For us this pledge represents a much more conscious and committed effort to reduce our household GHG footprint and take full advantage of simple but effective changes. As rural residents of Bracebridge we plan and coordinate our travel to limit excessive and unnecessary trips. We consciously buy local whenever possible and support local food producers and providers. Our solid waste generation has been reduced to a third by being more thoughtful in our purchases and taking advantage of a more simplified life that includes composting food waste, canning and preserving (a new found interest!) that has reduced our consumption and lessened our footprint. As we consider maintenance and replacement projects in our home, we look for sustainable and recycled options. We also look at simple changes like the addition of water flow metering which has saved approximately 20% in water consumption. Living within the natural rural environment of Bracebridge we have adopted low impact natural and native gardening around our home. We are also proud to participate in the Friends of Muskoka Watershed Ash Project for the past three years. I have found it very useful to use phone apps like MyEarth that help us track our progress in reaching our goal. We continue to look forward to more changes in our persona life as we work to our pledged goal. It’s all about small shifts and changes that cumulatively add up.
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
As a member of both Bracebridge and District Council I am proud to have supported the respective declarations of a Climate Emergency. Bracebridge being the first municipality in Muskoka to do so. This significant statement of course has to be follow up with action. Bracebridge Council, in cooperation and collaboration with the District of Muskoka and stakeholders across Muskoka including Climate Action Muskoka will have its first climate action plan in place in early 2023. This plan will not just guide, but require immediate adaptation actions and long term mitigation measures. Further, in December of 2020 the District Muskoka District Council approved a comprehensive climate strategy designed to tackle climate change at both corporate and community levels. “A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy” sets direction and action that will reduce Muskoka’s contribution to climate change, and to prioritize adaptation goals, actions, and programs to prevent or minimize the impacts of climatic changes.
Bracebridge and its municipal leaders are in a unique position to provide local leadership through:
- Improved building practices that encourage; innovative building types, improved design and construction practices to reduce energy consumption through increased building durability and minimized operational energy demand.
- Identifying and utilizing waste heat sources throughout the town, such as heat from industrial, commercial and infrastructural processes, heavily cooled facilities such as ice rinks, and wastewater heat to supplement heat for buildings and hot water. Using these energy sources will reduce the need for fossil fuels and new technology investments for heating services.
- Use of municipal facilities for potential energy production. Use of park space and other civic lands to support geothermal, solar and other energy systems.
- The creation of multi-use facilities like Bracebridge’s new Muskoka Lumber Community Centre, that can facilitate community services and support additional uses, including land dedicated to food production (community garden) and ensure municipal facilities capitalize on additional infrastructure opportunities such as stormwater management and renewable energy generation.
- Higher intensity mixed development directed to urban serviced areas.
- Diverse mobility opportunities provide the majority of people with a variety of ways to move around Bracebridge, including walking, cycling and public transit. Increased provisions of public transit and reduced needs for private automobiles also reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
The highlights just a few examples of new and better ways that a community can live and thrive within its environment. Bracebridge is well positioned to be a leader in municipal initiatives.
3. A long-term problem requires a long-term solution. What is your 100-year plan? If elected, what would be your first action?
Over the next 100 years our collective vision has to move from consumer to conservationist, working with our environment, not contrary to our environment. That requires and immediate shift It’s all about changing our collective lens to one that is ‘climate action centred’.
We need to understand the value of simple things like the latent food production and energy capacity of homes, vacant lands and buildings. How we strategically locate plant material for summer shading and winter wind protection. Supporting solar initiatives that take advantage of access to sunlight eventually supplying a large part of the much reduced energy demand.
Respecting and protecting the natural beauty of Muskoka. Our waterfront must be viewed as an important public resource. We must preserve significant habitat throughout the region in a variety of park types and low density. By preserving green corridors with natural trials, we connect neighbourhoods, schools, recreational facilities and other amenities to promote stewardship and an active lifestyle. A more naturalized approach to engineering strategies will offer greater resilience to the more frequent storms and risk of flooding that is anticipated in the future.
Encourage new developments to include community gardens and/or areas for urban agricultural production. Encourage urban forestry along streets and within open space to help moderate local temperatures, improve air quality and provide habitat.
A green thinking community will attract a green economy.
As a final thought, recent news of actions taken by citizens against governments for not living up to obligations of reducing GHG and not taking real action to climate change only resonates the real concern for the future of our planet. Change is absolute and action is critical for today, tomorrow and for 100 plus years to come.