Public input is being sought on a draft climate change action plan boasting 135 recommendations for the City of Sarnia.
“We’re literally just sort of back and forth on getting some initial input, sort of fine-tuning that input,” said community services general manager Stacey Forfar about the 51-page draft approved by council in May for public consultation.
Talks with utility providers, including Bluewater Power and the Lambton Area Water Supply System, as well as general public input from a June survey, are being added to the instruction guide for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the city, expected to come back for formal approval in October, Forfar said.
“It’s a great start,” she said about the document guided by various city departments and Sarnia’s environmental advisory committee.
The approach is pragmatic, she said.
“Something that the administration can also sink their teeth into, wrap their heads around, and we can actually support it and move it forward.”
Among the recommendations in the draft are various inventories of buildings that need energy-mitigation strategies; plans for a zero-emission vehicle strategy and green fleet plan in the next three to five years; ongoing shoreline protection work; a 10-year urban forest management plan; and, where possible, a commitment to re-establish and create area wetlands.
All the action items fall under four categories, called community pillars in the document:
● The natural environment, like parks and open spaces;
● Flooding, including stormwater management and erosion;
● Emergency preparedness and response; and
● Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through buildings, energy, transportation and waste diversion.
The plan is to create a report card every year evaluating the plan’s progress, Forfar said. While aimed at things the city as a corporation can do, it’s also hoped the plan will inspire more action in the community, she said.
More naturalization of park spaces and proper tree canopy management in the city are some examples, she noted.
Climate change in the Sarnia area is expected to result in an average temperature increase of three to four degrees by 2100. The 2018 research by Queen’s University students also anticipates more precipitation in the winter and less in summer, as well as fewer days of Great Lakes ice coverage and much stronger storms.
Sarnia started working on a climate change adaptation plan in 2019 – the same year city council declared a local climate emergency – with about $100,000 in federal funding.
The work was stalled by COVID-19 in early 2020, and later expanded to include mitigation – not just adapting to climate change but taking action to prevent it from worsening – when it resumed under an environmental advisory committee with new membership, Forfar said.
“We decided to really overhaul how it was going to be done,” she said. “It wasn’t being successful with just one staff person. It really needed a team around them, just based on the content and volume of information.”
People interested in having their say on the document can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More details about the plan are available at speakupsarnia.ca/climate-change-adaptation-plan.