Active School Travel Summit – get your tickets now

Join a diverse group of stakeholders to share knowledge and celebrate their collective work on active transportation at the Ontario Active School Travel Summit, 1 October, Toronto.

The Ontario Active School Travel Summit takes place Monday 1 October at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Toronto. Co-hosted by Green Communities Canada and the Ontario Active School Travel Council, the Summit brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to share knowledge and celebrate their collective work. Tickets are limited to 150 delegates. Register here. For more information email

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Let’s restore federal retrofit incentives

Pictured right: Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi and Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.

Home energy retrofit incentives
  • establish federal residential retrofit incentive program in Ontario
  • use a portion of carbon funds designated for Ontario
  • use EnerGuide Rating System – developed, operated by Natural Resources Canada
  • launch new incentives 1 January 2019
  • achieves much deeper savings, GHG reductions than carbon tax plus rebate cheques
  • generates thousand of jobs (contractors, professional home energy advisors)
  • leverages millions in private investment
  • revives a popular program
  • promotes federal/NRCan energy efficiency mandate
Why use the EnerGuide Rating System?
  • a state-of-the-art, made-in-Canada tool; science-based; recently upgraded
  • existing NRCan infrastructure: training standards, energy advisor registration, quality assurance, file administration, quality assurance
  • targets savings, engages homeowners with credible, customized advice
  • incentives reward verified savings, ERS prevents fraud
  • incentive design can be updated to boost cost-effectiveness and targeted savings
  • utility and other incentives can easily piggy-back on ERS
Why Natural Resources Canada?
  • years of experience, existing infrastructure
  • unequalled expertise in this country about home energy performance, building science
  • the right home for an all-fuel program targeting GHG savings

“A retrofit incentive program will save more than it costs: it will make Ontarians richer and greener. For the same reason, incentives will have a negative cost per tonne of carbon saved.” 

For more information, contact Clifford Maynes, Executive Director, Green Communities Canada.; 705 745 7479 x 118.

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And the award goes to…..

The 2018 GC Awards were announced at Green Communities Canada’s (GCC) Annual General Meeting, 18 June. The awards recognize the many champions who work and volunteer with GCC and its member organizations.

Award winners:

Green Community of the Year – City Green Solutions, Victoria, BC

City Green Solutions has developed a foundation for market transformation in energy efficiency for both new home construction and existing housing stock.

The BC Home Energy Coach program provides energy coaching services for consumers, industry, utilities, and local governments. It has become the leading resource for learning how to reduce energy consumption and about rebate programs.

City Green has also developed a tool to train energy advisors on how to demonstrate that a new home meets required energy code levels.

Both initiatives are increasing energy efficiency and have high potential for being replicated at the national level.

Award criteria

This award is for an organization that demonstrates innovation in programming, partnerships and marketing, and successful local community (businesses, households) or broader transformation (policy, government).

Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award – two winners

  • Dr. E. Melanie Watt, Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, Canmore, AB
  • Ellen Mortfield, EcoSuperior, Thunder Bay, ON

Dr. E. Melanie Watt

Melanie helped establish the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley 21 years ago and has  provided outstanding service and leadership to the Institute and its award winning programs ever since.

She is a well-known author and academic, and is recognized as a community champion and expert in sustainability.

Ellen Mortfield

Ellen is a tireless champion for environmental causes in Thunder Bay and the Lake Superior Basin. Her strength in community engagement and constructive collaboration have resulted in strong and sustained partnerships with key regional stakeholders.

Ellen is a champion grant writer, a diplomatic communicator, and undoubtedly the “glue” that holds EcoSuperior together!

Award criteria

This award is for an individual who demonstrates through work and achievements a lifetime contribution to improving the environment.

Innovation Award – two winners

  • Green Action Centre, Winnipeg, MB: Compost Winnipeg, GOManitoba, Onsite programs
  • Green Venture, Hamilton, ON: Smoothie Bike program

Green Action Centre: Compost Winnipeg, GOManitoba, Onsite programs

Green Action Centre has developed three innovative projects to promote green living:

  • Compost Winnipeg is a social enterprise to encourage green jobs while reducing waste. Compost Winnipeg operates 7 days a week, employs 7 people, and collects between 2-3 metric tonnes of organics daily.

This project has shown innovation in:

    • collection methods by using electric bikes
    • accessibility by collecting from seniors who otherwise aren’t able to compost, and
    • and organizational structure by creating a non-profit waste collection agency
  • GoManitoba is an app and website that helps facilitate carpools, promote public transit use, and match commuters with bike and walk mentors. It is a quick, secure, and personal way to find new commuting options.

While there are other carpool apps on the market, GOManitoba is unique in that it encompasses all aspects of healthy commuting, such as cycling, transit or walking.

  • Onsite helps tenants and building management set up compost facilities on site, and offers training and expertise, with regular follow-ups.

Green Venture: Smoothie Bike program

The Smoothie Bike program is an innovative addition to Green Venture’s work in sustainable transportation, healthy food, and sustainable energy. It is also a marketing and community engagement success that has expanded from funded presentations at schools to private bookings.

The smoothie bike program began with local schools using stationary “blender bicycles” to make delicious healthy smoothies while learning about local food.

Phase 2 added the ability to power small electronic devices while making smoothies.

Phase 3 (2018) includes quantifying screen time by determining mileage ridden.

Award criteria

This award is for an organization that demonstrates innovation in programming, partnerships, marketing and events.

Outstanding Staff Person Award – two winners

  • Laura Anderson, Green Venture, Hamilton, ON
  • Brendan Schaefer, Reep Green Solutions, Kitchener, ON

Laura Anderson

Laura is a tireless champion of Green Venture’s gardening programs, who actively promotes the organization to the community, and has facilitated many community initiatives and partnerships.

Laura is detail-oriented and runs her programs effectively and within budget, and, at the same time, constantly strives to improve them. She goes out of her way to ensure her programs are working in concert with other activities being conducted by Green Venture. She is a leader in the Green Venture organization.

Brendan Schaefer

Brendan is the Swiss army knife of Reep. He can literally do just about anything, and he does in fact do just about everything in the organization.

Brendan is Reep’s:

  • IT and security guru
  • the facility manager of the Reep House
  • a Registered Energy Advisor
  • WET auditor, providing water conservation audits
  • Rain Home visit guide
  • Rain barrel installer

He demonstrates his commitment to Reep and to environmental sustainability every day.

Award criteria

This award is for a staff person who has demonstrated through his/her work and achievements the strongest commitment to a Green Community bringing about positive change and impact to the organization.

Youth Engagement Award – three winners representing two Green Communities

  • Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, Canmore, AB
  • Erin Moir and Aynsley Klassen, Program Coordinators, EcoSuperior Environmental Programs, Thunder Bay, ON

Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley

The Biosphere Institute’s youth programs have been recognized with prestigious grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. They include:

  • school specific programming (K-12)
  • spring/summer camps
  • programing for Family and Social Services groups, youth groups (i.e. Scouts, cycling clubs, Green Clubs), and programs for new Canadians.

The widely popular EduKits are travelling trunks of teaching activities, props and resources that have engaged more than 5,000 youth in active, hands-on learning and environmental stewardship. Also popular are our youth movie-making workshops. In addition, the Biosphere Institute strives to include youth in all of its programming and program decision making.

Erin Moir and Aynsley Klassen

Erin and Aynsley are the driving forces behind the Agents of Change, Climate Action Project. The project will inspire 150 youth from across Northwestern Ontario to reduce GHG emissions and create positive change through action.

In addition, Erin is the coordinator of EcoSuperior’s Summer Day Camp, and both Erin and Aynsley deliver classroom education programming for local school boards.

Award criteria

This award is for a member that excels at engaging youth in programming, not only in school specific programming, but also in day camps and other organizational programming.

Outstanding Board Person – Janek Jagiellowicz, Reep Green Solutions, Kitchener, ON

Janek Jagiellowicz is a Human Resources professional who provides invaluable advice and guidance to Reep Green Solutions. His advice is always succinct, practical and encouraging and he knows how to provide a different opinion without creating conflict.

Award criteria

This award is for a board member who has demonstrated through his/her work and achievements the strongest commitment to a Green Community providing exceptional stewardship to the organization.

Resilience Awards – Given to GC member organizations that have continued to succeed despite challenges, thanks to a host of qualities including flexibility and adaptation, and have reached a milestone in longevity.

Green Calgary                   40 years

Environment Network        25 years

Windfall Ecology Centre    20 years

GCC salutes this year’s winners. Winners receive a certificate and bragging rights for the year.

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FCM calls for federal active transportation leadership

A resolution adopted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (95% in favour) urges the federal government to take action in support of active transportation.

The resolution, put forth by the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities, calls for a National Active Transportation Policy, including:

  • better data to track mode share
  • research on benefits
  • AT policy and infrastructure design guidelines for adoption at the provincial/territorial and municipal level
  • coordination of roles and responsibilities among federal departments and agencies continued long-term federal investment in AT infrastructure.

“This is terrific,” said GCC Executive Director Clifford Maynes. “For the past year and half, we have been working with our allies in Canada’s active transportation movement to try to secure federal funds for a collaborative national plan. The FCM resolution dispenses with federal government concerns about treading on municipal jurisdiction. Municipalities are explicitly seeking ‘greater federal leadership,’” Clifford said.

Stay tuned.

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Depave Paradise grows. Dig it!

Green Communities Canada has received $740,000 over 36 months from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to depave 36 sites across the province.

Depave Paradise engages local volunteers to tear up unwanted pavement and replace it with gardens planted with native species. In addition to creating green space, depaving helps restore the urban water cycle and reduce runoff pollution.

“This Grow Grant funding allows us to build on the proven success of this program,” says GCC Director of Water Programs Sharyn Inward. “Community depaving events are a great opportunity to educate Ontarians about treating rain as a resource and managing it where it falls. They also reduce heat island effect and give new life to neglected areas.”

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Teachers get set to depave

Teachers who attended a Depave Paradise presentation at the Ontario EcoSchools Superconference left inspired to turn paved school yards into pollinator and vegetable gardens, settings for green classrooms, and other green spaces.

“It was great to present to a group of 45 motivated green teachers,” said Rose Bergeron, GCC Program Manager. “I quickly realized they were beyond theory and ready for action.”

Rose shared information on turning unused pavement into enjoyable, productive green spaces that provide shade and reduce stormwater runoff.

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