Multiple community benefits when we do something about climate change

Public Safety Canada presented data at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual meeting that made the rounds on twitter a few days ago.

It caught the attention of municipal leaders.  It showed the  increase in natural disasters in Canada and the cost to taxpayers, including the federal Disaster Financial Assistance program.

Anyone in the industry knows the impact extreme weather events are having on insurance claims and the staggering costs to communities and families.  The insurance industry gets climate change.  They know risk.  They are on the front line of managing climate change risk.  Our public works employees are on the front line of managing the clean up.

While national governments spin their wheels trying to agree on international protocols to curb emissions, cities around the world and throughout North America are getting things done because they know they can deliver real benefits to their community at the same time. Benefits like:

  • Better air quality
  • Greater transportation options
  • Job retention and growth
  • Competitive energy choices for consumers
  • Service and business continuity
  • Improved energy security

The Community Energy Initiative is our city’s integrated approach to deliver tangible benefits to our community.

The City of Guelph experienced one of the benefits of local energy generation just last month, when the west side of the city lost power, including the West End Community Centre.  We have, in partnership with Envida (owned by Guelph Hydro Inc), a new Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility at the centre.  The facility manager was thrilled when it started up within about 12 minutes and restored full power.  It responded so quickly that pool pumps and filters were maintained and there was no overtime needed to have the pools ready for the patrons the next morning.

The CHP facility also equips the West End Community Centre to be an ideal shelter during a community emergency when the power is out – enabling us to fulfill one of our core municipal responsibilities – to provide support to people during an emergency. 

The story here is that our Community Energy Initiative is not just about a sustainable environment – though of course that’s important. It’s also about system reliability and service continuity to the community at large.

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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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  1. Mayor Farbridge, Guelph ON: Multiple community benefits when we do something about climate change | International District Energy Association - June 5, 2014

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