Environment and Sustainability

Cenotaph

The City of Peterborough aims to integrate policies, projects, and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change.

In partnership with neighbouring municipalities and community agencies, we've established a Climate Change Action Plan and a Community Sustainability Plan that help guide our community toward its climate action goals. We're taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions including through projects to reduce energy use, such as the $5.2-million project to convert 7,205 streetlights to smart technology light emitting diode (LED) light fixtures in 2018. And environmental sustainability is a factor in planning policies that are encouraging greater intensification to reduce urban sprawl, making better use of our existing built up area.

City Council declared a climate emergency in September 2019, expressing support for greatly accelerating timelines for our existing actions to reduce the effects of climate change and to consider new actions and proposals to greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In its declaration, Council identified the need to achieve a target of 45% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

 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,

  • That staff, working with the PEAC, be requested to also report on the opportunities to: 
  • 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.  

Also in 2019, Council created the Peterborough Environmental Advisory Committee to advise the City on environmental matters related to City of Peterborough municipal projects.

Our 2020 Budget is the first City budget to highlight climate change mitigation and adaptation measures throughout the budget. Council approved putting $426,400 into the Climate Change Action Plan Reserve fund. Examples of projects that help the City reduce its greenhouse gas emissions or deal with adapting to climate change include:

  • Winter control pre-wet technologies that reduce the amount of salt the City uses on roads to prevent ice for road safety as required under regulations - $370,000
  • City-wide organic waste collection and centralized composting facility - $15.3 million total budget through 2023
  • City-wide Storm Water Quality Master Plan Implementation - $850,000
  • Evinrude Centre roof and HVAC replacement that will improve energy efficiency - $1.9 million
  • Sanitary sewer rehabilitation - $750,000
  • Storm sewer rehabilitation - $500,000

The City continues to take action on climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives. 

  • The City has made application to Natural Resources Canada for funding to install eight dual-charging stations (total of 16 charging ports) for electric vehicles at four City facilities. This infrastructure will support the City’s use of suitable electric vehicles where applicable.
  • 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 resulting in reduced emissions.
  • The City has applied to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund for funding to develop a residential home energy efficiency program. Such a program will be critical to addressing the approximately 40% of community greenhouse gas emissions that result from residential energy use, primarily home heating. An upcoming report to Council on this project will be before General Committee at its December 1, 2020 meeting.
  • Work on developing actions related to increasing community resilience in the face of climate change impacts – such as the wind storm you noted – is also progressing. A draft strategy has been prepared and staff will be working with various divisions and external agencies in the coming months to advance the critically important climate adaptation needs.
  • The Source Separated Organics program initiated in 2020. This project will address the significant methane emissions resulting from organics being disposed to landfill.
  • The Urban Forest Strategic Plan and Emerald Ash Borer Program continue to invest in City-owned trees. Approximately 700 caliper size trees were planted in 2020 through these programs with a similar amount planned for 2021.
  • The Transition 2050 project is advancing to create resources for homeowners looking to increase the efficiency of their homes with simple, do-it-yourself projects, while attempting to build local neighbourhood-level support. This project has been significantly disrupted due to the public health situation eliminating the amount of in-person community engagement and staff have worked hard with community partners to adapt the program to the reality on the ground.
  • The Central Area Flood Mitigation Project continues to advance with the completion of Phase 1 in 2020, and Phase 2 set to begin in 2021. This project will protect a large portion of the Central Area of the city from flood risk due to extreme wet weather events that are increasing due to climate change and is a centrepiece of the City’s Flood Reduction Master Plan.
  • Ongoing work with Peterborough Environmental Advisory Committee to review priority areas of focus to continue to move the Climate Change Action Plan forward.
  • Multiple transportation planning projects continued or were started in 2020, which will help set important planning direction, many of which aim to target increasing mode share of active transportation and transit alternatives. These include:
    • Transportation Master Plan
    • East Side Transportation Study
    • Transit Route Review and Long-Term Growth Study
    • Traffic Calming Review
    • Cycling Master Plan
  • The draft 2021 Budget also proposes several projects that will continue to advance the City’s climate action goals including:
    • Alternate Fuel Study for Transit – this project will explore various emission reducing approaches in Peterborough’s context to make recommendations for Council’s consideration. An approved direction forward will be incorporated into the planning of a new transit garage facility.
    • A full-time Climate Change Coordinator position is being recommended to help coordinate and manage the various initiatives and support responding to climate change related funding opportunities as they arise.
    • Continued investment in the Crawford Trail Extension and other infrastructure improvements to the active transportation network.
    • A $426,000 contribution to the Climate Change Reserve.

We focus on environmental and sustainable initiatives in our daily operations and decision making. For more information, you can visit the following areas:

Energy consumption

Through our Corporate Energy Management Plan, we have committed to reducing our energy consumption and its related environmental impacts.

We monitor our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for all of our municipal facilities.

How greenhouse gas emissions are calculated

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from City-owned facilities are calculated by using monthly utility bills multiplied with an emission factor for each energy product (electricity, natural gas, etc.), which is provided by the Province of Ontario. For example, the emission factor for electricity is based on the power grid's mix of energy generation and as this composition changes so does the amount of GHGs linked to electricity generation. City staff can then track and project how changes in facility energy use will impact GHG emissions.

Annual energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions reports

Subsidies and incentives

Subsidies and incentives may be available for retrofits and improvements to your property. The following subsidies are available:

Low-flow toilet rebate

The City of Peterborough offers a rebate to assist residents with purchasing low-flow toilets to replace existing, less-efficient toilets as a way to reduce water use.

Toilets make up almost 30% of residential indoor water use. We offer a $50 rebate for residents living in the City who replace their existing toilet with a WaterSense certified toilet.

Natural gas incentives

Making renovations and energy upgrades to your home provides significant return on your investment. Enbridge Gas is providing up to $5,000 back through the Home Energy Conservation Program.

Electricity incentives

Electricity incentives may be available when you are making energy retrofits to your home or business. You can see online what programs are currently available through Peterborough Utilities.