What will be called one of the most important and visionary plans to guide change in the City of Greater Sudbury received preliminary approval from Council earlier this month. The Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) is a comprehensive strategy to reduce the use of fossil fuels. With a net-zero emissions target for the year 2050, the plan calls for normalizing transformative change in how we shape, build and get around our communities.
Positioned as part of the response to the City’s recent declaration of a climate emergency, the CEEP has actually been in the works for a couple of years. It’s been the subject of considerable public and stakeholder engagement (see:“May: PowerUp to cut energy use, carbon pollution in Sudbury,” the Sudbury Star. October 6, 2018), and it’ll be heading back out to the public, with the final plan expected to go to Council in the early new year.
Not surprisingly, the CEEP is data-heavy. It establishes a baseline for emissions, and projects where Greater Sudbury might end up if we do nothing for the next 30 years, through what it calls a “Business as Usual” scenario. Greater Sudbury can still expect to see an 11% reduction in energy use by 2050. What’s driving the decline is the on-going shift to electric personal and commercial vehicles and (importantly for Sudbury), industrial vehicles used in mining operations. But a warming climate itself also gives us a bit of an assist, as the number of days needed to heat our homes, mostly with emissions-intensive natural gas, is decreasing due to shorter winter seasons.
Transportation is responsible for the largest share of emissions in the City. By 2050, the CEEP is calling for 35% of all trips to be made through active transportation – also known as walking and cycling. Today, that number seems highly aspirational in a City that at times appears to go out of its way to cater to cars. But Greater Sudbury isn’t alone in needing to re-engineer a largely suburban built-form so as to better accommodate the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. After all, with or without the CEEP, there are going to be many more people getting around on bikes and on foot in the future.
Rachelle Niemela, chair of Bike Sudbury (formerly the Sudbury Cyclists Union), identifies the City’s budget process, which is about to get underway, as a crucial time to flag needed improvements. One of Bike Sudbury’s priorities is the completion of a minimum grid of safe cycling infrastructure, connecting neighbourhoods to each other and to employment areas.
“This is coming along,” says Niemela. “We fully support the work that is being planned for the Paris/Notre Dame bikeway, and routes that are recommended in the TMP (Transportation Master Plan). The TMP however has some missing links and missing
infrastructure on high-volume, high-speed roads what we’d like to see addressed. The TMP’s timelines indicate that a safe and complete network can only be competed in 15 to 20 years. We need to develop an action plan to more quickly implement that network and build the grid.”
Municipalities are used to moving at the speed of incremental change. But the CEEP is clear that transformative change, which requires significant upfront investment in infrastructure and programs, will save citizens and the municipality money, while creating jobs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Waiting another 20 years to be able to safely bike around the City just isn’t in the cards, given the climate emergency.
If you’re interested, the next Community Energy and Emissions Plan workshop takes place at 6:30 PM, Thursday, November 28th, at the Northbury Hotel and Conference Centre, 50 Brady Street. And Bike Sudbury is hosting a social at Spacecraft Brewery, 854 Notre Dame Avenue, on Wednesday, November 27th, starting at 7:00 PM.
(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the Green Parties of Ontario and/or Canada)
Originally published online and in print as, "May: Plan sets Sudbury on course for transformative change," at the Sudbury Star, Saturday November 23, 2019 - without hyperlinks.
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