House of Commons – October 5, 2016

I rise today to speak in favour of the Paris agreement and the government’s motion for Canada to participate in this global attempt to reduce climate change.

On December 12, 2015, Canada and 194 other countries reached the Paris agreement, an ambitious and balanced plan to fight climate change. The new agreement would strengthen efforts to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2° Celsius and to pursue further efforts to limit the increase to 1.5° Celsius. In addition, the Paris agreement aims to foster climate resilience and to lower greenhouse gas development.

There has been much said in the House, on a national level, about the benefits and risks of the Paris agreement. I thought I would bring the discussion to a sub-national level and focus on the role of local municipal governments, the roles of public and private corporations, and the role of civil society using the lens of my community of Oakville. It will require all of us working together to achieve the aims of this agreement, and my community of Oakville is an exemplar of the co-operation that will be required.

Oakville’s vision is to be the most livable town in Canada. The town’s 2005 environmental strategic plan recognizes that our quality of life rests on the quality of our environment and on our respect for our natural and cultural heritage.

In 2015 the town achieved milestone 5 of the ICLEI Federation of Canadian Municipalities partners GHG reduction program. This capstone achievement reflected the town’s accomplishment of the target of a 20% reduction in corporate GHG emissions by 2014 from 2004. Oakville is only one of 30 Canadian municipalities to have achieved a milestone 5 level.

Council has now reset the energy and GHG reduction targets to ensure that the town is continuing to achieve measurable results. An example of this plan is the i-Tree 2016 study of Oakville’s urban forest. There are two million trees in Oakville. Oakville’s urban forest canopy coverage is about 28%. In Oakville, the total value of annual home energy savings provided by the tree canopy is $1,800,000. As a result of these energy savings, about 2,200 tonnes of carbon emissions are avoided each year, with an annual carbon value of $172,000.

Oakville’s trees sequester about 5,900 tonnes of carbon each year, with an associated annual carbon value of $460,000. Oakville’s tree root systems store approximately 148,000 tonnes of carbon, with an associated carbon value of $11.5 million.

We can grow our tree canopy by 50% in years to come.

With over 185 kilometres of on- and off-road cycling paths, over 300 kilometres of trails, 1,420 hectares of parkland, 31 waterfront parks, and more than 200 parks with playgrounds and sports fields, Oakville has recreational opportunities for everyone.

While our local tree canopy expansion plan will contribute to Canada’s Paris agreement commitments, it will also continue to provide a superb living environment for residents. These are win-win carbon reduction strategies.

Oakville council has confirmed its commitment to support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally by harmonizing specific town reduction targets to match global targets.

The largest public corporation in Oakville is Halton Healthcare. The new Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital is a thoughtfully designed, state-of-the-art centre of health care excellence. Although eight storeys tall and 1.6 million square feet in size, OTMH is highly energy efficient, incorporating many innovative technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. The energy efficient design measures put in place avoid electrical consumption of 16,700,000 kWh annually, enough energy to supply 1,850 homes in Oakville with electricity annually. It is saving dollars and reducing GHG emissions.

The new building, built to LEED® Silver standards, has been recognized by the high performance new construction incentive program for achieving a tier 3 level of more than 50% in energy savings. Construction of the new OTMH included a 500 kilowatt solar array, which was donated as a gift to the hospital by Hatch Industries.

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