Reflections on Clean50 Summit

September 18, 2014


I had the honour to spend Wednesday with leaders from across Canada.

What brought us together was a commitment to advancing sustainability in our country. The Clean50 Summit honours outstanding contributors to sustainable development and clean capitalism in Canada.

I was impressed by the diversity of people in the room. They came from large corporations – like Hewlett Packard and Costco – and small start-up CleanTech enterprises. There were people from social enterprises, industry associations, government, academia and non-profit organizations.

There are now 200 alumni of the Clean50.

I was also impressed with the depth and scale of the sustainability work being undertaken by the Clean50.

The business case for practicing sustainability is being well established by this group. The savings to the bottom line of bold programs to reduce waste (some achieving zero waste in their initiatives) and reduce water and energy consumption and green house gas emissions was nothing short of jaw dropping.

That was why I was there. Our city pitches in this league. I was very proud how well known Guelph is as a leader in smart sustainable city building.

While we build a more prosperous, green and caring community together, we are making a contribution to building a more sustainable country. I have always known this but it was great to have it confirmed with such clarity yesterday.

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About Karen Farbridge

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

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2 Comments on “Reflections on Clean50 Summit”

  1. Linda Craig Says:

    Do you have any regrets or reflections regarding the destruction of the wonderful old forest in the south of Guelph, in order to pave up a big and pretty empty industrial park? Seems to me that environmental stewardship begins at home and that cluster of trees was quite special and irreplaceable, in my opinion. Its destruction still saddens me years later especially to see the empty industrial lands that replaced it.
    Forests and trees are an important part of a commitment to clean climate and something we can do on a local level.
    I also wonder why the arborist position was not filled. Would an arborist have perhaps protested some of the destruction of trees and encroachment on sensitive wetlands, that is occurring in these years of rapid suburbanization of the lands surrounding Guelph?
    Would you handle this differently now, if you had an option?
    Did you learn anything from it? Are you pleased with the end result of that action? Hard questions perhaps – but I would find knowing your thoughts, looking back in retrospect, valuable in making decisions with the upcoming election at hand. Thank you very much.

  2. Karen Farbridge Says:


    The old growth forest grove, including all heritage trees, were protected in the development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park. Trees that were removed were mostly non-native and invasive species, and 20 hectares of tree plantings are increasing the tree canopy from about 26% to 35%. The development also included the protection of provincially significant wetlands, restoration of 10 acres of meadowland, and protection of ground water.

    The arborist position was filled.

    Thanks for your questions. I agree that environmental stewardship begins at home.

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