cover of the Climate change action plan documentThe City of Peterborough aims to develop projects, programs, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. In 2016, the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) was approved by City Council after developing it in partnership with Sustainable Peterborough and ICLEI-Canada. The CCAP is Peterborough's foundational climate change strategy to mitigate corporate and community GHG emissions. The CCAP identified 21 strategies that would limit the growth of GHG emissions by 30% by 2031 from 2011 baseline levels. 

The City of Peterborough is actively pursuing many CCAP corporate actions while implementing community climate programs and influencing residents and businesses to take additional climate actions. 

Climate Change Action Plan - Community Strategies

The community strategies are categorized into the following six themes: Homes, Workplaces & Schools, Mobility, Food, Land-use, and People. A total number of 19 primary actions and 57 supporting actions were developed as part of the CCAP. 

The City of Peterborough is designing and implementing multiple community actions inspired from the CCAP that include: 

  • Developing a Home Energy Efficiency Program to support homeowners reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions
  • Expanding the active travel network to facilitate mode share shift away from cars.
  • Supporting the Green Economy Peterborough hub's mission to support local businesses becoming low-carbon
  • Increasing the number of community gardens to increase access to local food and improve food security for residents
  • Protecting the urban tree canopy from preventable felling

To learn more about CCAP inspired community strategies visit Community Mitigation

Climate Change Action Plan - Corporate Strategies

The corporate strategies focused on five themes: Buildings, Fleet, Water & Sewage, Streetlighting, and Solid Waste. Nine main strategies and 46 actions were created to guide the municipality.

The City of Peterborough is accelerating municipal action to lessen GHG emissions being emitted from corporate sources and to demonstrate local leadership. The following are examples of corporate strategies that will diminish GHG emissions:

  • Proposing GHG decarbonization pathway study to develop a plan for reducing 80% of GHG emissions from high emitting corporate buildings
  • Installing electric vehicle charging stations in advance to enable the conversion of the light-duty fleet to electric or hybrid vehicles
  • Completed conversion of streetlighting with LED fixtures
  • Planning the development of the city-wide composting program and construction of a composting facility

For more examples of climate action progress by the City of Peterborough, visit Municipal Action

In 2019, City Council declared a climate emergency that expressed support for greatly accelerating timelines for introducing climate actions and to consider new actions and proposals to significantly lower GHG emissions. In the declaration, Council identified the need to achieve a target of 45% GHG emission reduction by 2030 below 2011 levels and net-zero by 2050. The enhanced targets and timelines are now aligned with the latest climate science that supports holding global temperatures to 2oC or below.

Climate Emergency Declaration, September 23, 2019

At the meeting of September 23, 2019, Council adopted the following motion in declaring a Climate Emergency:

Whereas: 

  1. Climate change is the greatest crisis of our times worldwide, harming human and animal populations through extreme storms, severe flooding, record heat waves, prolonged droughts, and other natural disasters 
  2. Climate change is contributing to billions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage worldwide and is viewed as the major public health threat in Canada for cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses and deaths  
  3. International research has concluded that there is a need for massive carbon emissions reductions within the next 11 years to avoid further devastating damage to our environment, economy, and society 
  4. Over 450 local governments, including 40 Canadian communities such as Ottawa, London, Hamilton, and Kingston have acknowledged this urgency by officially declaring a climate emergency. They are committed to action to drive down emissions at emergency speed. These Climate Emergency Declarations importantly involve the public and serve as Calls to Action by the Community as well as by Council and other levels of government.

That Council, pursuant to its authority under section 10 of the Municipal Act, 2001, hereby declares a climate emergency within the City of Peterborough for the purpose of naming, framing and deepening our commitment to protecting our community, its economy, and its eco systems from climate change, and,

  • Greatly accelerate timelines for our existing actions to reduce the effects of climate change; 
  • Add new actions and proposals to reduce greatly our GHG emissions; 
  • Identify the budgetary implications of proposed actions, including opportunities to engage all other levels of government and private sources, to combat climate change; 
  • Incorporate a climate change lens into all city actions and policies recognizing the need to achieve a target of 45% GHG emission reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050;  
  • Engage and educate the general public regarding this crisis to support the city’s efforts to meet these goals; and,
  • That staff report back to Council by the end of the first quarter, 2020.  

Peterborough Environmental Advisory Committee

In 2019, the Peterborough Environmental Advisory Committee (PEAC) was founded as a community body to provide advice to Council and city staff on sustainability, environmental, and climate action matters. The Committee meets nine times per year to discuss and submit feedback for consideration on corporate and community-focused initiatives. A monthly climate initiatives update report is presented to PEAC members regarding the latest ongoing climate action projects being led by the City of Peterborough. The Committee also receives presentations and reports from other departments and divisions seeking PEAC input.

All PEAC meeting documents can be accessed on the City Council Meeting webpage by searching in the Upcoming Meetings section for the most recent committee agenda or scrolling down to the Past Meetings section for archived meeting documents. 

Additional Plans and Policies

The municipality has created supporting plans and policies that have been designed to aid in climate mitigation and adaptation in Peterborough. 

Update of Official Plan

The Official Plan, is a guiding document that sets the vision and direction of how community growth will be undertaken in Peterborough to 2051. The Official Plan update includes a significant number of policies that directly and indirectly address mitigation and adaptation. Highlights of climate policies within the Official Plan include:

  • Increased densification of neighbourhoods
  • Focus on expansion of active travel and public transit
  • Encouraging developers to build carbon-neutral and net-zero homes
  • Protecting natural heritage features like mature trees
  • Promoting renewable energy use in buildings
Corporate Energy Management Plans

The City of Peterborough is mandated by the Province of Ontario to report annually on the energy consumption of city-owned facilities and create a five year energy plan to curb energy use. The municipality established the inaugural Corporate Energy Management Plan - 2014 to 2018, that outlined the initial energy reduction measures to achieve 5% reduction in energy use from 2013 levels. The following are the included measures:

  • Increase staff awareness and motivate staff to change energy use behaviour
  • Complete building energy audits at facilities
  • Improve the efficiency of energy use through regular maintenance of equipment
  • Recommissioning of existing corporate buildings
  • Finalize energy procurement agreement through fixed rate contracts

In 2021, the City of Peterborough completed its second iteration with the introduction of the Corporate Energy Management Plan - 2019 to 2023. The new plan seeks to reduce corporate energy use by 10% from 2018 levels. Highlights of the plan include:

  • Complete a solar energy potentials survey of corporate buildings
  • Explore passive lighting solutions to lower the electric lighting use during daytime building hours
  • Consider establishing a natural gas reduction working group to curtail gas consumption
  • Investigate strategies to lessen energy use for hot water systems
Flood Reduction Master Plan

After the 2004 Peterborough flood the City of Peterborough commissioned the development of the Flood Reduction Master Plan. The following recommendations from the plan have since been implemented or are continual actions to lower the likelihood of a similar flood event occurring:

  • Flood proofing properties by installing back-up sump pumps and backflow preventers to limit basement flooding
  • Relining pipes to improve structural integrity to lessen pipe failures
  • Enhanced sewer maintenance and monitoring to prevent issues occurring 
  • Construction of new storage ponds to capture rainfall, retrofit existing storage ponds, and limit overland flooding
  • Widening stormwater capacity to handle heighten precipitation events
  • Flood mapping of Jackson, Curtis, and Meade creeks
Watershed Plan

To enhance the long-term protection of the watershed that Peterborough is located within, the Peterborough Watershed Plan - Our Watershed, Our Blueprint is being developed. The first phase of the plan is to improve understanding of the multiple sub-watersheds within the city that comprise the larger watershed that drains into the Otonabee River. This research phase includes a detailed inventory of water resource systems, natural heritage features, and cultural values of the sub-watershed within the community. The Watershed Plan complements climate adaptation by elevating the extent of knowledge for areas of the city that may flood or be impacted by flooding. 

Community Climate Change Resiliency Strategy

The Community Climate Change Resiliency Strategy (CCCRS) is a comprehensive adaptation plan that is being developed to lower the risk and vulnerability of Peterborough to the effects of extreme weather. The CCCRS is being finalized before implementation throughout the community with the following strategies being recommended:

  • Reducing flood risk from severe changes of water quantity and protecting water quality
  • Reducing damage to infrastructure and the built environment from extreme weather events
  • Protecting and enhancing natural heritage features from climate risks
  • Supporting urban agriculture and community gardens adapting and identifying new opportunities
  • Educating residents and businesses about the impacts of climate change and how to prepare for extreme weather events
  • Increasing the adaptive capacity of the local economy to prepare for disruptions to business, supply chains, and other factors
  • Integrating municipal decision-making process to consider adaptation and risk prevention
Urban Forest Strategic Plan

The urban forest canopy in Peterborough is an excellent resource for climate adaptation and mitigation. Trees have the ability to reduce flooding by slowing rain water as well as capturing and storing carbon dioxide. In 2011, the Urban Forest Strategic Plan was developed to guide the municipality in protecting and enhancing the tree canopy. The plan targeted eight strategic objectives:

  • Maintaining and enhancing the urban forest
  • Maximizing the benefit of the urban canopy for residents
  • Improving the stewardship of the urban forest by the City of Peterborough
  • Recognizing that the urban forest is a key natural infrastructure asset in Peterborough 
  • Preventative maintenance to enhance tree health and protect against unnecessary removal
  • Recognizing the historic, cultural, aesthetic, social, and ecological value of the urban forest
  • Creating regulatory framework for monitoring and evaluating the status of trees
  • Increasing community awareness of the benefit of trees