At our June AGM, Green Communities Canada recognized the many champions who work and volunteer with us and our member organizations.
Green Community of the Year: GreenUP, Peterborough, ON. GreenUP was recognized for its “immersive and impactful programming,” and support for long-term environmental sustainability.
Lifetime Achievement: Mary Jane Patterson. Mary Jane is Executive Director, REEP Green Solutions, Kitchener, ON. She was recognized for her leadership in residential energy evaluations and low-income retrofits, resulting in annual reductions of over 30,000 tonnes of CO2 in the Waterloo region.
Innovation: REEP Green Solutions’ Coach Service. REEP’s coaches help homeowners reduce their environmental impact and adopt sustainable practices by providing one-on-one guidance and support to people interested in adopting more sustainable practices.
Outstanding Staff Person Award: Beth McKechnie. Beth is a sustainable transportation champion who assists workplaces improve their commuting options. She works with Green Action Centre, Winnipeg, MB
Youth Engagement: Alix Taylor. GCC’s Manager of Water Programs developed and implemented the Youth for Water Program. Alix trained and mentored Indigenous youth, helping them develop the skills to become environmental leaders in their communities.
Outstanding Board Person went to three recipients:
- Lee-Anne Bigwood, Ecosource, Mississauga, ON has been involved in a wide-range of activities, from strategic planning to stakeholder relations, event planning, and financial management.
- Tania Del Matto, REEP Green Solutions, Kitchener, ON was recognized for her commitment to the health and good management of the organization and the sustainability of her community.
- Helen Doyle, Windfall Ecology Centre, Aurora, ON has played a leading role in guiding the strategic direction of the organization.
Award winners receive a certificate and bragging rights. Congratulations all.
An alliance comprising Canada Bikes, the National Active & Safe Routes to School Working Group, and Green Communities Canada has launched a website urging support for a Canadian active transportation strategy to address factors that influence everyday active transportation, including infrastructure, community design, and road safety.
The Active Transportation Alliance website summarizes the scope and need for a strategy, the amazing breadth of support it has (more than 160 signatories), and the benefits of active transportation. There’s also a “take action” page to join the call for a strategy, get connected, and reach out to decision-makers.
Discussions are ongoing with Environment and Climate Change Canada and other federal government ministries regarding funding.
Starting in 2019, under the Green Energy Act, the Ontario government will require home energy ratings and advice at time of listing. The move is intended to encourage investments in home energy efficiency.
The Home Energy Transparency Coalition (we’re a member) supports the measure and notes that home buyers have a right to reliable information about energy efficiency when they are considering a purchase, as we do for vehicles and appliances.
GCC Executive Director Clifford Maynes recently participated in a series of consultation committee meetings to discuss plans for the Home Energy Rating & Disclosure (HER&D).
The Ontario Real Estate Association raised a long list of concerns: OREA opposes universal ratings at time of listing in favour of including energy audits in a standard home inspection.
As the sole representative of the energy assessment industry, Clifford defended the principle of universality (not all real estate transactions involve home inspections, and the inspectors are opposed to making audits a standard part of their service). Clifford also defended the integrity of the EnerGuide Rating System and quality assurance.
To re-establish the necessary auditor capacity in Ontario required to meet the demand for time of listing audits in 2019, GCC is recommending a substantial increase in retrofit incentives starting in 2017. “We in the industry are quite capable of ramping up capacity, as we have done twice previously. We just need a market for our services to justify the investment,” Clifford said.
THREE GCC member organizations received Ontario Trillium Foundation Grow grants:
- GreenUP, Peterborough, ON, received $408,500 over 35 months to expand on NeighborPLAN, an initiative helping residents shape local services and programs.
- EcoSource, Mississauga, ON, received $562,900 over 35 months to create environmentally-sustainable communities by assisting with staffing and program costs.
- Environment Network, Collingwood, ON, received $286,000 over 36 months to launch Collingwood Youth and Technology Centre to help youth between the ages of 12-18 years facing barriers develop strong emotional and social skills.
Faith and the Common Good, Toronto, ON, also received a Grow grant in the amount of $296,200 over 35 months to reduce the energy footprint of faith buildings. GCC Board member Lucy Cummings is Executive Director of Faith and the Common Good.
HOLISTIC HEALTH and plant educator Joe Pitawanakwat conducted a hands-on workshop to show how natural ingredients, including spruce gum, fern leaves, and cedar and coconut oils, can be used to make healing teas and salves. GCC’s Youth for Water program was one of the sponsors of the Traditional Medicines workshop held last month in Peterborough, ON.
“Learning about these medicines and seeing how much they can help was very eye opening,” said Youth for Water participant Kristin Muskratt. “I’m excited to share what I learned.”
YOUTH FOR Water, a pilot project of Green Communities Canada and The Sacred Water Circle, has entered the final phase as participants head to their communities to host water-themed workshops and implement action projects.
Crystal Cowie and Amber Pitawanakwat are hosting a workshop for children in Hiawatha First Nation on shoreline health and turtle nesting. In addition, Amber is partnering with the elementary school in her home community of Whitefish Lake First Nation to create a rain garden in the fall. Crystal is creating an information video about the Youth for Water program which will be available on Facebook upon completion.
Nat Cummings and Kristin Muskratt will host a series of workshops at Curve Lake First Nation School on rain gardens and traditional medicinal plants. The workshops will be followed by two planting events that will result in the creation of a rain garden and medicine garden at the school.
Program Coordinator Hattie Edwards is returning to her home community of Akwesasne in the spring to coordinate a local Youth for Water program with support from GCC and local groups.
Youth for Water is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund. A proposed second phase project is awaiting approval.