During Wednesday’s council meeting, the town adopted a community energy plan that will lay the groundwork to reduce the town’s environmental footprint.
Coun. Jody Jackson, who chairs the sustainability committee and who brought the motion forward, said it’s a step in the right direction.
“It sets a target for us to achieve our reduction in our energy uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and it’s allowing us to lead the way in this province in embracing green technologies.”
The community energy plan’s vision is to create a sustainable community that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption through a variety of ways, including active transportation, education, energy conservation and efficiency, and renewable energy.
Mayor David Dunphy said through consultations and annual surveys, it was determined energy efficiency, sustainability and saving the environment rank high on the list of priorities among residents.
“This all feeds into what the residents feel is important and what they want, so we’re just trying to carry that out. So there’s interest out there.”
Council hopes the energy plan helps to reduce GHG emissions from 2015 levels by 20 per cent for the municipality and by six per cent for the community by 2026. The latter represents a 34 per cent per capita reduction between the years 2017 and 2026.
One way the town plans on reducing its emissions is by installing a solar energy system on Stratford community centre gym.
This would involve installing up to a 100KW grid-tied photovoltaic solar system onto the gym’s roof, and depending on the size of the system and the cost of installation, the annual savings could range from $15,000 to $35,000.
Once installed, this would be one of the first systems of its kind mounted onto a community centre on the Island, and one of the first town halls in Canada to be powered by solar panels.
The cost of the project is $200,000 – with one half coming from the town and the other half from the federal government.
Dunphy said it’s difficult to say how and when the community energy plan will be implemented until it is first known what will happen with the federal government’s pan to impose a carbon tax on the provinces.
“There’s a carbon tax coming down the pipe. It’s going to be here next year,” he said, adding that until council knows how it will be implemented, the town can’t devise programs until they know what the provincial and federal governments are going to do.
“Then we’ll do something so that we’re all on the same page and going in the same direction. There’s a lot of balls in the air right now, but we’ve got a plan in place,” he said, adding that hopefully this time next year there will be concrete actions, programs and initiatives in place.
There will continue to be information sessions in the upcoming months for those interested in learning more about the community energy plan. The next one is set for Sept. 30 at Stratford Town Hall, as part of the Stratford Community Expo.