Community Mitigation

Community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are created when fossil fuels are burned to power and heat our homes and businesses, and move us in our cars. In 2021, community GHG emissions in Peterborough were estimated to have added 489,164 metric tons of carbon  dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) into the atmosphere during that year. The largest source of community emissions comes from combustion of gasoline and diesel in the transportation sector followed by burning natural gas for residential housing space heating. At present emissions levels, Peterborough is a contributing source to global climate change. 

Community Sector GHG Emissions from 2011 to 2021
SectorEmission Source2011 GHG (tCO2e)2018 GHG (tCO2e)2019 GHG (tCO2e)2020 GHG (tCO2e)2021 GHG (tCO2e)
Residential Natural gas, electricity, propane, heating oil 127,301 122,228 123,615 113,152 114,779
Commercial Natural gas, electricity 80,088 82,256 82,671 71,230 73,984
Industrial Natural gas electricity 56,835 37,720 37,497 33,193 39,049
On-road Gasoline, diesel 328,135 327,014 336,146 274,589 258,487
Aviation Aviation fuel 1,729 3,131 3,035 2,076 2,676
Marine Marine fuel 208 208 208 122 189
Grand Total 594,296 573,557 583,172 494,362 489,164

To halt and reverse growth in community emissions, the City of Peterborough is taking proactive measures to implement a variety of mitigation projects that will facilitate GHG emission reductions. The commitment by the City of Peterborough to foster sustainable reductions in GHG emissions is further complemented by the introduction of science-based emission targets. In 2019, City Council upgraded the community reduction target of 30% by 2031 to 45% by 2030 from 2011 emission levels as directed in the Climate Emergency Declaration. The decree also identified that community GHG emissions would aim for net-zero emissions by 2050.

The following are planned or completed projects that the City of Peterborough is championing to help residents and businesses meet the near-term 45% reduction goal to significantly lower community GHG emissions. 

Community Composting Program

The Source Separate Organics (SSO) program is a city-wide organic composting collection program launched in 2023. Weekly organic waste collection directs compostable material away from the landfill and sending it to a centralized composting facility. Composting organic waste such as food scraps is estimated to lower GHG emissions by 4,864 metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030. 

Visit the GROW Peterborough project page

Electric Vehicle Public Charging Stations

In 2017, six electric vehicle charging stations were installed throughout the city to support electric vehicle drivers charging while commuting. Since then, Tesla Superchargers have been added to Lansdowne Mall to complement the existing electric refuelling stations. The public charging stations can be found at the following locations:

  • King Street Parking Garage (202 King St.)
  • Lansdowne Place Mall (645 Lansdowne St. W.)
  • Memorial Centre Arena (151 Lansdowne St. W.)
  • Riverview Park & Zoo (1300 Water St.)

In 2022, additional public charging stations were installed at these two locations:

  • Simcoe Street Parking Garage (190 Simcoe St.)
  • Del Crary Marina (100 George St. N.)

Transitioning to electric vehicles helps reduce GHG emissions and other toxic pollutants emitted from combustion engines from impacting the climate. However, electric vehicles do have GHG emissions associated with charging because of the carbon content of electricity power generation within the Ontario electricity grid. The best time to refuel vehicles is overnight (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) to avoid peak electricity demand in Ontario that produces the most emissions. Overnight charging is also the least expensive time to refuel. 

Greening Peterborough Homes via the Home Energy Efficiency Program 

Residential buildings are a significant source of GHG emissions in Peterborough because of the emissions created from heating and electricity use. Lowering the energy consumption of one's home is the recommended way to decrease household GHG emissions. Examples of renovations that can lessen home energy use include the following:

  • sealing cracks in a building's foundation and around windows and doors
  • replacing single pane windows with energy efficient double or triple pane windows
  • adding insulation to a building's envelope (attic, exterior walls, basement) to limit heat loss 
  • incorporating insulation around electrical sockets or pipes and any other exterior-interior connections
  • fuel switching a hot water heater with an electrical unit
  • removing electric resistance heaters for an electric heat pump
  • replacing a propane or oil furnace to an electric heat pump
  • upgrading a natural gas furnace to dual electric, full electric, or ground source heat pump
  • adding an electric solar hot water heater
  • installing electric solar panels

The City has developed a made-in-Peterborough residential retrofit program called the Home Energy Efficiency Program (HEEP) that will support homeowners finance energy renovations. In 2024, the City received funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to establish the HEEP to serve Peterborough residents. The HEEP is anticipated to launch community-wide in Fall 2024. To receive program updates about the HEEP, please register on Connect Peterborough.

Green Economy Peterborough Business Hub

In 2021, Green Economy Peterborough (GEP) was launched to support local businesses and organizations transition to become low-carbon enterprises. Green Economy Peterborough is a membership-based hub that coaches members to identify, set, and achieve low-carbon and sustainability goals. New members of GEP are supported in creating a baseline of their businesses' current energy consumption and then members are guided by GEP staff to develop a plan to achieve targeted reduction goals. Curbing commercial energy consumption through GEP is anticipated to lower community GHG emissions by 5,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030. 

Reducing Vehicle Idling

The City of Peterborough is increasing awareness of the vehicle idling by-law by installing 75 anti-idling signs around high priority areas to limit pollution impacting vulnerable community members. Targeted areas include schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks, and health care facilities. Vehicle exhaust is toxic and can harm individuals with underlining health conditions such as asthma. Idling also adds CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. 

Anti-idling Frequently Asked Questions

What is vehicle idling?

Idling is the operation of a combustion vehicle's engine when parked or stopped in an active lane longer than two minutes. Traffic congestion is not included.

What kind of pollution is produced during vehicle idling?

A combustion vehicle's engine creates carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that is the primary driver of climate change. Idling a vehicle adds CO2 into the atmosphere regardless of the idling time allowed. Idling also generates volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other pollutants that can negatively impact local air quality and produce smog.  

How much greenhouse gas emissions are produced after 5 minutes of idling?

According to Clean Air Partnership, an average gasoline engine car idling for 5 minutes will emit approximately 0.115 kgCO2.

For example, if 12 cars idled for 5 minutes waiting to pick up students at a school would collectively generate 1.4 kg of CO2. Extending the 12-car idling scenario to include all 31 schools in Peterborough, 43.4 kgCO2 per school day and 217 kgCO2 per week would be emitted. Forecasting an entire school year under this scenario would create 8,463 kgCO2 or 8.4 metric tons of CO2. These emissions are equivalent to driving one car 40,500 km per year. 

1 L of gasoline = 2.3 kgCO2    1 minute = 0.023 kgCO2            5 minutes = 0.115 kgCO2

What are common health impacts caused by idling?

Vehicle emissions and idling can increase the health risk of vulnerable individuals like children or the elderly to respiratory illnesses, increased rates of heart conditions, and lower resistance to infections. Limiting idling near schools, daycares, playgrounds, retirement homes, and health facilities can avoid undue harm to our most vulnerable community members.   

What does the Anti-idling By-law allow and prohibit?

In 2008, City Council passed By-Law 08-077 to Control the Idling of Vehicles in the City of Peterborough. The By-law prohibits the following:

  • Idling a vehicle for longer than two minutes
  • Idling a municipal vehicle longer than one minute

The By-law is exempted for the following situations:  

  • Emergency vehicles
  • Crossing guard vehicles
  • A vehicle being repaired or serviced
  • Vehicles in a drive-through
  • Transit vehicles

Additionally, a vehicle is not considered to be idling if the vehicle is powering or operating auxiliary equipment essential to the vehicle's function.

Why are some corporate vehicles exempt?

Emergency and transit vehicles are not included within the By-law because those vehicles require the use of an engine to power auxiliary equipment or to maintain appropriate internal temperatures for heating or cooling for passengers or vehicle operators' wellbeing.

What can a driver do to avoid idling?

Avoiding situations that would encourage idling is an easy first step. By parking in the shade during the summer to limit the need to cool their vehicle or wearing winter clothing to limit the need to heat their vehicle, drivers will be more comfortable turning off their vehicle while they are stopped. If purchasing a vehicle, select one with Stop-Start technology that automatically turns off the engine, buy a hybrid electric, or fully electric car to eliminate idling altogether. Lastly, simply recognizing your idling habits and actively changing your behaviour by turning the key off.

Solar Energy Potential Map

An interactive solar panel map that identifies the solar potential of buildings in Peterborough was developed in partnership with Fleming College. Installing solar technologies like solar photovoltaic (PV) to generate electricity or solar thermal to heat water are excellent solutions to help lower your carbon footprint and actively tackle climate change. Solar PV can also support property owners with decreased monthly electricity bills during peak time-of-use periods

Check out the map and learn if your building is ready for solar technologies today.

How to use the solar panel eligibility map:

  1. Select and click your building from the map
  2. A pop-up window will appear that lists:
    1. Suitable rooftop area in square meters for installing solar technologies on your building
    2. Usable annual solar radiation in Megawatt-hour (MWh) for the rooftop
    3. Estimated solar electricity produced (MWh) and avoided greenhouse gases associated with grid electricity in kilograms
    4. Potential range of annual electricity cost savings from not purchasing grid electricity 
  3. Next steps: 
    1. After reviewing the preliminary capacity for solar for your building, contact a local solar installer for a refined building assessment 
Traffic Signal Upgrades
The Traffic Signal Upgrade and Optimization Program is underway and is piloting a smart signal system to allow the synchronization of traffic signals to optimize traffic flows that will result in reduced vehicle GHG emissions.
Video Series: Climate Action at Home

The Climate Action at Home video series was completed in June 2021 to support and improve homeowners’ understanding of what should be considered when pursuing a home energy efficiency retrofit. Local expert Chris Magwood, of the Endeavour Centre describes entry-level DIY renovations that a homeowner could undertake which includes helpful instructions on how to tackle insulation, water heaters, and draft proofing projects. The Climate Action at Home series also details what should be considered in advance to achieve a net-zero energy home renovation.

How to improve your home's insulation

How to insulate your water heater

How to draft proof your home

Things to consider for a net-zero home renovation


Subsidies and incentives

Subsidies and incentives are available for energy efficiency retrofits and improvements to your property. The following subsidies are also available for Peterborough residents:

Low-flow toilet rebate

From 2012 to 2022, the City of Peterborough provided a rebate to assist residents with purchasing low-flow toilets replace existing, less-efficient toilets as a way to reduce water use. Toilets make up almost 30% of residential indoor water use in Peterborough. 

Thank you for your support conserving water through the City of Peterborough’s Low Flow Toilet Rebate Program. Through this program, over 1,000 toilets have been replaced with low flow and high efficiency models.

Energy renovation rebates

Renovating your home to reduce energy consumption is an excellent way to decrease GHG emissions. The following are possible incentives that a homeowner can access to today:

  • For income-qualified homeowners, Enbridge Gas is offering free energy efficiency renovations to improve the comfort of older homes and reduce expensive bills through the Home Winterproofing Program
  • Enbridge Gas is offering a $75 Smart Thermostat rebate to help homeowners easily control energy use at home.  
  • Hydro One Energy Affordability Program is available for income-qualified homeowners for free energy upgrades that include light bulbs, high efficient showerheads, faucet aerators, refrigerators, clotheslines, power strips, smart thermostats, weather stripping, and insulation. 
  • A variety of energy efficiency programs are being offered to businesses by Hydro One. These programs include energy renovations, lighting improvements, and hiring energy managers among other incentives. 
  • Heating equipment rebates such as for air source heat pumps are located on Hydro One's myEnergy Marketplace. 

Rain garden subsidy program

Flood reduction subsidy program

stormwater retention pond

Community Adaptation

Climate change poses a significant risk to Peterborough. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent with severe rainfalls, intense summer heat, and ice storms impacting the community. Improving the resilience of people and infrastructure from extreme weather is essential to reducing the vulnerability within Peterborough. 

In 2004, a catastrophic flood damaged downtown Peterborough after 240 mm of rain fell in 24 hours which exceeded the capacity of the storm sewer system. Critical infrastructure was impacted with $21 million in total damages to roads, bridges, and culverts. Residents and businesses reported $95 million in insured losses because of basement flooding. 

The City of Peterborough is spearheading numerous adaptation projects that will lessen the impact of flood events occurring again in the community. The Flood Reduction Master Plan and storm water capital program provides solutions to reduce localized flooding by enhancing sanitary (e.g. limit contamination) and storm water systems (e.g. enlarge culverts) to decrease flooding. At-risk locations in the city are the primary focus that include the downtown and neighbourhoods along creeks. New programs to support homeowners decreasing their exposure to localized property and basement flooding are also key strategies to limiting community flooding. 

In 2022, a powerful windstorm swept through Peterborough with wind speeds exceeding 100 km/h that snapped trees causing widespread blackouts due to broken hydro-lines. Some pockets of the city remained without electricity for multiple days. The windstorm eventually cost the City of Peterborough $3.3 million to cleanup and dispose of the downed trees.

The City of Peterborough is seeking to expand and protect community trees through additional plantings and undertaking preventative maintenance to improve their ability to withstand extreme weather events and risks from invasive pests. Planting trees are an excellent way to adapt to climate change because trees slow and redirect water into the soil to reduce flooding, decrease the urban heat island, and absorb CO2 to mitigate climate change. 

The following projects will support Peterborough's continuing adaptation efforts.  

Downtown Flood Protection

The Central Area Flood Mitigation Project is advancing with the completion of Phase 1 in 2020 and Phase 2 in 2021. This project will protect a large portion of downtown from Jackson Creek flooding its banks during spring melt or after a severe rainfall. The floodwater diversion project is the single largest adaptation initiative undertaken to date that will create increased stormwater capacity by redirecting water away from Jackson Creek into culverts that drain directly into Little Lake. 

Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather impacting Peterborough. The completion of this flood mitigation project will reduce the vulnerability of the downtown neighbourhoods experiencing flooding.

Curtis Creek Flood Reduction
The City of Peterborough successfully secured funding to complete a detailed design of the Curtis Creek Channel Improvements from the National Disaster Mitigation Program. The channel improvement will include watercourse widening, bank erosion stabilization to increase water capacity, and enhancing creek hydraulics. The project is a critical adaptation measure that will handle increased volumes of water during the spring melt and after an extreme rain event. Adapting the channel for higher volumes of water is recommended through the Curtis Creek Flood Reduction Master Plan to mitigate flooding within the Curtis Creek watershed and East City area. The first completed project replaced four culverts with larger units and the plan is now focusing on widening the creek.
Rain Garden Subsidy 

The Rain Garden Subsidy program is available to Peterborough homeowners to decrease the volume of run-off entering the storm sewer network that can reduce the risk of flooding events. Rain gardens work by directing rooftop downspouts to a designed garden bed that contains loose deep soils to absorb and filter the run-off water. The retention of water on properties during a heavy rain event is an important adaptation action that lowers the chance of neighbourhood flooding. Rain gardens also trap pollutants from entering local water bodies that would impact drinking water and harm the environment.   

Eligible Peterborough properties can qualify for up to $1,000.00 to offset the cost of installing a new rain garden. Apply today. 

What is the Rain Garden Subsidy Program?

How to apply for the rain garden subsidy?

How to design and build your rain garden?

How to maintain your rain garden?

Flood Reduction Subsidy Program 
The Flood Reduction Subsidy Program aims to help property owners reduce the impacts from basement flooding and improve water inflow and infiltration on their properties after a rainfall. The program provides incentives to install various measures such as a backwater valve to limit household flooding during a heavy rain event. Also available are subsidies that help reduce the likelihood of community flooding through the disconnection of downspouts and improving property drainage. This program is integral for homeowners to strengthen their adaptive capacity and resilience after a severe storm and protect the community as a whole from flooding. 
Stormwater Plan
Developing a management plan for stormwater is an essential adaptation action to control the flow and storage of water after rain events to limit flooding. The Storm Water Quality Master Plan (SWQMP) is presently in a multiple-year implementation phase throughout the community. Once the SWQMP is fully implemented, Peterborough will have enhanced its resiliency and reduced its flooding exposure.
Flood Risk Modelling
Flood risk mapping and modelling aids in identifying locations within Peterborough that are prone to flood events. The City of Peterborough was successful in its application to the Natural Disaster Mitigation Program to study the city’s storm sewer network and create an urban flow model to strengthen adaptation planning. The study will assess the current level of stormwater service performance and then apply climate change scenarios to determine at-risk areas of the city. The stormwater and flood model will present an up-to-date understanding of how extreme weather can impact Peterborough's major and minor river systems and stormwater management facilities. 
Community Climate Change Resiliency Programming
The Community Climate Change Resiliency Strategy (CCCRS) is a foundational adaptation strategy that will be built upon to improve the community's resilience from extreme weather and climate events. A resiliency strategy will enhance Peterborough's ability to plan for near and long-term climate adaptation actions. The (CCCRS) was created in partnership with ICLEI-Canada in 2020. 
Emerald Ash Borer Program
The City of Peterborough is committed to expanding the urban forest canopy. In 2020, approximately 500 shade trees were planted on municipal property to compensate for the loss of ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer beetle. The Emerald Ash Borer Program focuses on protecting the best ash trees to maintain their health and removing dead or dying ash trees to allow for replanting. The plan calls for three new trees of a different species to replace each removed ash tree. This strategy is essential to replace the ecosystem services that have been lost quickly as possible, such as carbon sequestration, water infiltration, cooler ambient air temperatures and wildlife habitat.
Urban Forest Strategic Plan
Growing the urban forest canopy is one of the simplest and most cost-effective adaptation actions that can be undertaken in response to climate change. Forest canopy provides many community services and benefits such storing carbon and cooling neighbourhoods during the summer.  The Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) is the City of Peterborough's strategic document that outlines objectives to expand the forest canopy, improve tree health, add more species biodiversity, and select trees more adaptable to climate change.

Bird Friendly City Status

Healthy ecosystems are vital for all animal species that reside or migrate through Peterborough. However, the alteration of ecosystems, such as through urban development, pollution, and climate change, are factors that are negatively impacting local species. Birds are notably susceptible and have experienced significant declines in the overall population due to habitat loss, window collisions, cat predation, and pesticide ingestion.

To alleviate further deterioration of bird species and promote bird risk awareness, the City of Peterborough partnered with the community environmental coalition Bird Friendly Peterborough (BFP) to apply for Bird Friendly City certification from Nature Canada. In 2022, Peterborough gained entry-level certification after BFP evaluated the degree of existing municipal bird-friendly initiatives and policies. The City celebrated receiving Bird Friendly City status by holding a city-bird contest for residents to pick the official bird species of Peterborough, with the great blue heron being selected. The City will continue striving to lower bird species vulnerabilities through bird strike mitigation efforts, habitat rehabilitation, and community awareness building.