Carleton Place council asks for carbon tax to be invested in community

Posted on: February 1, 2017

Jane Hobson

Carleton Place council authorized the staff recommendation to ask the Province of Ontario to allocate some Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account (GGRA) funds to rural communities at the Jan. 31, 2017 council meeting.

Ontario’s cap-and-trade program – sometimes referred to as a carbon tax – started Jan. 1, 2017. Most people noticed the program come into effect with the hike in gas prices.

The Province will use the GGRA money to fund initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) as part of the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan.

Since the transportation sector is a major generator of GHG, a significant portion of the funds will be used to fund new transit infrastructure that will accommodate the impact of climate change.

Unfortunately for small rural communities like Carleton Place, this means GGRA funds from local residents will go towards funding larger urban areas like Toronto. In urban communities, a better transit system means high volumes of people will be able to use the bus or streetcar rather than driving themselves.

“It’s not particularly helpful to us,” said Carleton Place’s Chief Administrative Officer Paul Knowles. “This communication asks that the provincial government considers using the money from our community here rather than in Toronto.”

Council also added that a copy of the motion will be sent to various groups in the province that have a stake in mitigating and adapting to climate change, like the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA). ROMA looks to promote, support and enhance effective rural governments.

“Lanark County is paying taxes that are going to Toronto,” said Carleton Place Mayor Louis Antonakos. “It’s hard for rural communities.”

Carleton Place is one of many rural Ontario communities that is asking the province to assign some GGRA funds to municipalities in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change in their local community.

Knowles estimated that the carbon tax program in Carleton Place could generate about $1.8 million in 2017.

Council says funding could go towards projects like organizing ride sharing programs, constructing park and ride facilities, cycle facilities and reconstructing bridges and drainage systems to adapt to climate change.