CAM gives the District’s new Community Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan a mixed review

Climate Action Muskoka gives the District’s new Community Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan a mixed review

Grassroots climate group calls the plan ‘a good start,’ noting that much depends on implementation.

Muskoka, April 15, 2024 — Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) commends the District of Muskoka for its recently-released Community Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan (CEERP) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Muskoka.

“This is an important, ambitious, evidence-based plan, developed with broad community input,” say Linda Mathers and Tamsen Tillson, who represented CAM on the Climate Change Mitigation Task Force.

“As a framework, this is a good start. But we need to go further, faster. We need to see this implemented right away. We are counting on our District and municipal leaders to set specific targets and timelines and to allocate staff and source the funding necessary to achieve the climate goals we have committed to here.”

Based on a 2021 audit of the source of emissions, this plan outlines a vision for reductions and key actions required across the three areas that create the most emissions: transportation, buildings, and community systems. The District of Muskoka has committed to achieving a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030—less than six years away—and net zero by 2050.

CAM is concerned that projected emissions reductions in CEERP are too reliant on the adoption of EVs by private citizens and the initiative and leadership of community groups, many of which are volunteer-run. The group calls on the District and municipal governments to set an example by implementing the climate actions in all three areas of the plan: transportation, buildings and community systems.

As the plan enters its implementation phase, CAM calls on the District and municipal governments to provide leadership as follows:

1.     A dedicated climate action department and sufficient staff to carry out the implementation requirements in the plan.

2.     Policy and regulations to meet the plan’s targets that are specific, measurable, costed and funded, with timelines and deadlines.

3.     Adequate funding and investment in climate-resilient infrastructure and community incentives. Every dollar invested today saves six dollars in the future, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

4.     Address the need to phase out ‘natural’ gas in Muskoka, plan for this transition with rebate incentives for residential heat pump uptake, and lead the way by retrofitting all municipal buildings with air source heat pumps.

We cannot afford for this plan to gather dust. With less than six years to cut emissions by 50% CAM calls on the District and municipal governments to move forward with the utmost urgency and looks forward to working with elected representatives and staff on next steps.

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan Muskoka-based group formed in 2019 whose mission is to collaborate with individuals, businesses, groups and all levels of government to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

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Huntsville General Committee meeting – February 28

Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) delegated to the Huntsville councillors Wednesday to express community support for real climate action that will drive down fossil fuel pollution. Having been invited to delegate, CAM reviewed why escalating climate impacts require urgent action. 

CAM also presented results from two climate surveys – one carried out by the District of Muskoka and the other an International Gallop Poll (see above) – that show citizens are demanding that their governments act to lower climate-heating greenhouse gas emissions and, surprisingly, that they are willing to pay more taxes and even to contribute personal income to get the task done!

Thank you to the 50+ community members who came out to support our delegation.

CAM to District Council! Set up a Climate Change Reserve Fund and Hire Staff to Implement the Upcoming Community GHG Reduction Plan.

Open letter to Muskoka District Council

Good morning, Chair Lehmann, Mayors and members of Muskoka District Council,

Pursuant to the discussion that took place at the December 7, 2023 Committee of the Whole on the 2024 District Budget with respect to climate change, we would like to highlight the results of the District’s own recent GHG Public Survey (2023) on climate action and climate spending (see stats below). During the discussion, councillors made multiple comments suggesting that it is the community that needs to lead with respect to climate action. We disagree.

Results of the survey clearly indicate that the public wants and expects you, our elected leaders, to act on climate to increase our local ambition in “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner” as agreed to today by nearly 200 countries at COP28 in Dubai.

The results of last summer’s survey indicate that a significant majority of the Muskoka citizenry is not only ready to spend their own money on climate initiatives, but also wants to see local governments spend more on climate initiatives in line with holding global heating to no more than 1.5C. We need to see Muskoka District Council “Tackling the Change”. Once again Climate Action Muskoka requests that you: 

  • set up a specific Climate Change Reserve Fund in the 2024 Budget as called for in A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy initiative from 2020
  • fund the hiring of one, better two, full-time staff who have climate experience and training to support the Climate Initiatives Coordinator in rolling out the upcoming District community GHG reduction plan promised for early 2024

Results of Muskoka’s Public Greenhouse Gas survey Summer, 2023:

  • 368 surveys completed
  • 68% of participants are extremely concerned about climate change in Muskoka in the future.
  • 85% of participants think it is important for the Muskoka community to act on climate change
  • 85% of participants are willing to spend their money on a climate change related initiative
  • ***65% of participants think that local governments should be spending more taxpayer money on initiatives related to climate change***

Video: GHG Public Survey – The Results Are In! | Muskoka Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Initiative | Engage Muskoka

Regards,

Sue McKenzie, Gravenhurst
Len Ring, Gravenhurst
Tamsen Tillson, Bracebridge
Linda Mathers, Port Carling
Lesley Hastie, Huntsville
On behalf of Climate Action Muskoka


Dec 18, 2023 – Update


The following resolution was passed by District Council

Muskoka District Council
December 18, 2023

Moved by: P. Johnston

Seconded by: P. Koetsier

THAT a ‘Climate Change Reserve Fund’ be established;

AND THAT a one-time allocation of $1,000,000 be transferred from the ‘Environmental Reserve Fund’ to the newly established ‘Climate Change Reserve Fund’;

AND THAT staff report back regarding how to finance annual contributions to the ‘Climate Change Reserve Fund’;

AND THAT additional resources be considered to support the New Leaf Climate Action Plan, the Muskoka Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Initiatives, and other Climate related initiatives.


Global March to End Fossil Fuels — Sept. 17, 2023

Text: Join the Global March to End Fossil Fuels

Climate Action Muskoka, Climate Action Parry Sound and Almaguin Climate Action invite you to join us in Huntsville on Sunday, September 17 at 1:30 pm for a Global March to End Fossil Fuels. We will meet at Flag Park (West Rd., & Centre. St. N.) and together we will march down to River Mill Park. There will be group chants before we set out and some brief speeches at River Mill Park. Bring your End Fossil Fuels signage.

Why Now?

This is part of a global call to action involving thousands of climate action groups worldwide demanding an end to our heavy reliance on fossil fuels. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is hosting a global Climate Ambition Summit in New York City in September in which the “ticket to entry” is tangible action to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Thousands of climate groups worldwide are planning climate strikes on Sept. 15 and marches to end fossil fuels on Sept. 17, including a mass demonstration — March to End Fossil Fuels in New York.

Our Huntsville action is in solidarity with 350.0rg | Fridays for Future | Fight Fossil Fuels | David Suzuki Foundation | Climate Action Network and many more!


Update: September 19

Climate Action Muskoka, Climate Action Parry SoundAlmaguin Climate Action and more than 75 supporters met in the pouring rain at the Flag Park in Huntsville and together marched to River Mill Park on Sunday.

We chanted, we marched, we exchanged ideas, and we, voters and constituents, signed open letters to MP Scott Aitchison and MPP Graydon Smith calling for no new fossil fuel projects, a halt to continued gas expansion in Huntsville, Burk’s Falls and other Ontario communities, investment in community-owned renewables and holding polluters responsible for harms caused to communities.

Thank you to the organizers, and to all of you who came out. This is important work!

Flag Park – photo: Ian Hastie
On the March – photo Tamsen Tillson
River Mill Park – photo: Len Ring

Shame on you MP Scott Aitchison!

Muskoka – MP Scott Aitchison needs to set the record straight. Our MP has reported in some publications and on social media what is either misinformation from his staff or a deliberate misrepresentation of what occurred on June 28th.  

Constituents representing two climate groups in his riding, Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) and Almaguin Climate Action (ACA), were taking part in the nationwide call by 350.org Canada to all federal MP’s to take climate action. Aitchison reported that the climate activists threatened his staff. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is what actually happened in Huntsville at Aitchison’s constituency office that day. Fifteen local representatives were invited into the MP’s office by his staff and, in his absence, delivered a letter with a call to action. “We are here to call on our MP Scott Aitchison to work with MPs from all parties to call on the Federal Government to immediately end subsidies to fossil fuel companies, cap emissions from oil and gas, and lead a just transition to a clean green economy,” said spokesperson Linda Mathers.

One of Aitchison’s constituents, a grandfather of newborn twins, became emotional. He pleaded his belief that the consequences of inaction to the climate crisis will be dire for everyone on the planet. While gesturing to the room, he said that his grandchildren will die; we are all going to die; you’re going to die.

What this passionate and outspoken climate advocate was calling out was the existential threat to us all. He was not threatening anyone, let alone Aitchison’s staff. To all present, it was clear that this was a grandfather trying to find the right words to talk about an issue he cares deeply about.

Aitchison’s decision to publicly lash out at the group implying that this was a death threat to his staff and calling the group extremists is a shameful misrepresentation of the truth. It is an attempt to discredit our groups and to deflect attention from the real issue, the lack of political will to forge a pathway to real climate action.

CAM and ACA have built relationships and worked collaboratively with all levels of government to push for climate policies; we have worked with other climate groups to educate the public on climate threats and real solutions; we continue to host weekly climate strikes in several communities to raise public awareness of the need for climate action. If Scott Aitchison were more interested in collaborating to find solutions to a climate crisis that he acknowledges is real, he would visit a weekly climate strike and see that our organizations are far from extreme.

Aitchison is right on one count. We can’t let extremes win. If we let the extremes of climate heating win, the Earth becomes uninhabitable. The matter is urgent and the matter is important – in the extreme

For the record, the climate groups have twice requested, in writing, a meeting with Aitchison to discuss the issues, both on the day of the visit, June 28, and a week later in a second letter hand-delivered to his staff. There has been no acknowledgement from Aitchison to date. We await confirmation of a meeting with him in which we will continue our call for real, collaborative climate action.

JUNE 28 NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION – CANADA IS BURNING!

Our MP needs to hear from you! Join us this Wednesday.

HUNTSVILLE: 11 am at MP Scott Aitchison’s office, 1-15 Northland Lane, beside Alban printing and Bowman’s Fuel. (isn’t that ironic?)  contact: chrlauffer@outlook.com

PARRY SOUND: 11:30am James/Mary St. Intersection

Bring gas or face masks, signs, and friends as we push our representative to muster up the courage to combat the climate crisis. There are record-breaking wildfires burning from coast-to-coast. We know why those fires are raging and the air is unbreathable. It’s time for our federal leaders to stop fuelling the flames of climate chaos with fossil fuel subsidies. 

Almaguin Climate Action (ACA), Climate Action Parry Sound (CAPS) and Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) are demanding: 

  • An immediate end to subsidies, hard caps for oil and gas emissions, no new projects, and no more industry influence over our politics. 
  • Enact a Just Transition: Urgently shift us to 100% renewable energy while generating millions of unionized jobs, following Indigenous leadership, and rapidly decarbonizing in line with climate science.  

First-ever Muskoka EV Show comes to Bracebridge Fairgrounds – May 27, 2023

See and test drive electric vehicles. Get your questions answered.

Bracebridge, April 13, 2023 — Muskoka Conservancy and Climate Action Muskoka proudly announce the first-ever Muskoka EV Show, coming to the Bracebridge Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 27 from 10:00am – 1:00pm.

“The future is electric, and the faster we can get there the better,” said Peter Love, an energy consultant and Muskoka Conservancy board member who instigated the idea. “Muskoka is well-positioned to be a leader in this revolution.”
“Private vehicles are responsible for almost 70% of all community greenhouse gas emissions in Muskoka,” said Lesley Hastie, lead event organizer for Climate Action Muskoka. “Switching to electric promises to make a huge difference here. People are excited to see and test drive and learn about electric vehicles. The Muskoka EV Show will help them make that move.”
The show—so far—includes:

  • New EVs from Cavalcade Ford, Tesla, Muskoka Nissan and Hyundai of Muskoka
  • New electric bikes from 171 Electric Bike Company
  • An electric launch conversion from Stan Hunter Boatbuilder
  • Park-and-Display area with electric cars and bikes and their owners, ready to answer
    your questions. Some may opt to take visitors for a ride along or a test drive.
  • Presentations and information from the Electric Vehicle Society, enVgo, Lakeland
    Solutions, PlugNDrive, reThinkgreen, and keynote speaker Steve Lapp, an expert on EVs
    and low carbon energy technology system design and education.
  • Admission is free. Donations appreciated. Bring your own water bottle

Learn about electric vehicles and find out what EV ownership is really like. Test drive an electric vehicle and see for yourself how well they perform. Visit climateactionmuskoka.org for further details.
If you have an electric vehicle or are an electric vehicle dealer interested in participating in the show, or if you are available to volunteer, contact Lesley Hastie at climateactionmuskoka@gmail.com.
Muskoka Conservancy is a charitable organization that works to conserve and protect natural spaces in Muskoka for future generations.
Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan grassroots group whose mission is to collaborate with individuals, businesses, groups and all levels of government to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis

BILL 23 MUST GO.

MUSKOKA/ALMAGUIN: Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) and Almaguin Climate Action (ACA) have a message for Parry Sound Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry: BILL 23 MUST GO. The ‘More Homes Built Faster Act’ harms wetlands, harms forests and farmlands, harms affordable housing, harms local government and harms democracy.  

“We expect our elected MPP to protect our communities’ interests and to protect Ontario’s natural resources and forests,” says CAM spokesperson, Tamsen Tillson. “We are calling on him to do the right thing and fight like hell to get the bill rescinded.” 

CAM and ACA are bringing a collective message to MPP Smith next Friday, December 9 in a Travelling Climate Rally from parts north and south in the riding. Bill 23 must be repealed to protect the biosphere, to allow municipalities to take climate action, and to ensure that citizens have a say in the future of their communities. 

“Bill 23 represents a massive assault by the Ontario government on biosphere protections, Indigenous and Treaty rights, municipalities, public consultation rights, climate decision-making, and downloads private developers’ costs onto municipal taxpayers,” Sue McKenzie of CAM says. “We invite all concerned citizens and municipal representatives to join this event.” 

You can join all or part of the Travelling Climate Rally as we come together from Sundridge (Post Office 9:30am), Burk’s Falls (Post Office 10:15am), Huntsville (Town Hall 11:15am), continuing on to Bracebridge (Memorial Park 12:20pm), and finally walk to Smith’s Bracebridge constituency office (230 Manitoba Street). If you are coming from South Muskoka, meet at Gull Lake Park in Gravenhurst at 11:45pm to travel to Bracebridge to join the northern group there. Bring a sign and your personal written letter to our MPP. 

Members of the group will hand deliver our personal letters to Smith. Everyone is welcome to join the Rally at any point along the route.  If you cannot join the event, email your letter or give your letter to someone who can attend. 

The event is organized by Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) and Almaguin Climate Action (ACA) The two groups have requested a joint meeting with MPP Smith. #RepealBill23 For more information: climateactionmuskoka@gmail.com 

Climate Action Muskoka Raises The Alarm About Bill 23

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Omnibus bill guts environmental protections province-wide

Muskoka, November 15, 2022 — Climate Action Muskoka has joined dozens of groups and municipalities across the province in raising the alarm about Ontario Bill 23, aka “More Homes Built Faster Act.” In an open letter to Muskoka’s Towns, Townships and District government and staff, CAM urges the municipal government and citizens across Muskoka to raise our collective voice in opposition.

The provincial government claims that Bill 23 was designed to address the housing crisis. But what Bill 23 actually does is open the door for developers to pave over wetlands, farmlands, forests and waterways that were previously protected.

It takes away the power of municipal governments—including those in Muskoka—to make planning decisions, reduces their autonomy and tax base, and silences conservation authorities and other environmental protection groups.

This bill exacerbates sprawl, undermines affordability, and ends the use of municipal green building standards. It is most harmful to those municipalities already on a green path. The only winners here are the builders of new subdivisions.

Bill 23 is an appalling abuse of power. CAM urges everyone in Muskoka to raise our collective voice in opposition. What you can do:

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan Muskoka-based group formed in 2019 whose mission is to collaborate with individuals, businesses, groups and all levels of government to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. Find us at www.climateactionmuskoka.org, on Facebook and Instagram @climateactionmuskoka.

May 26 – Elizabeth May will be in Bracebridge Friday

Elizabeth May will be in Bracebrige

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Muskoka – Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) is thrilled to announce that long-time climate activist and Green Party MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Elizabeth May, and Parry Sound-Muskoka Green candidate Matt Richter will participate in our weekly #FridaysForFuture climate strike this Friday, May 27, 11:30 to 12:30 at Memorial Park in Bracebridge.    

“CAM’s mandate is to drive climate action in Muskoka,” said Tamsen Tillson, a founding member of CAM. “We are thrilled to have Elizabeth walk with us, as she has long been a strong voice for urgent climate action. We hope her presence will help promote the climate message in Muskoka and Ontario.” 

“We invited all of the candidates to join us, and are very pleased to see Matt come out as well,” she added. “There’s sure to be some lively conversation. We hope their presence attracts some new climate strikers. Come join us!”   

CAM invites anyone who wants to talk climate to come down this Friday to walk and talk with MP Elizabeth May.  

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan group working to address the climate crisis in Muskoka. CAM has been holding #FridaysforFuture climate strikes since September 2019. This week the group celebrates 140 weeks of consecutive climate strikes (including in-person, digital and pop-up strikes during lockdown). Currently CAM holds climate strikes every Friday in Bracebridge and Huntsville.