Perth climate change task force welcomes contract coordinator

To help combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Perth Mayor’s Task Force on Local Climate Change hired Sean Campbell.
Posted on: February 14, 2017

Jane Hobson

To help combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Perth Mayor’s Task Force on Local Climate Change hired Sean Campbell to act as the Local Climate Change Plan coordinator. Campbell’s contract runs January to September 2017.

“I’m excited to learn from the community and the task force,” said Campbell, who has a masters of environmental studies in sustainability management from the University of Waterloo. “I look forward to supporting the Town of Perth in the development of a climate action plan that positions [Perth] as an environmental leader.”

Campbell says he has always been interested in the environment and the connection between the way people live and how the natural environment responds.

Perth Mayor John Fenik created the climate change task force after the last municipal election to help the community start thinking about its global climate change impact.

“If small town’s make the effort by changing the way we act locally, then we can make a big difference,” Fenik said. “I think we need to make a stand and lead by example.”

The Mayor’s Task Force on Local Climate Change encourages making Perth a Green Community, which is part of the town’s strategic plan. Green Communities Canada is a national association of community organizations working to reduce their impact on the environment. This means planning, building or modifying communities to promote sustainable living.

Perth will also create a climate change action plan that will give some direction to the town’s activities over the next decade, Fenik said. The plan will be developed with council, the climate change task force and the community at large.

The municipal green plan, which is currently in its infancy, aims to significantly reduce the GHG footprint and stimulate local economic development. A final draft of the plan is scheduled for presentation at council in March 2017.

A few things included in the municipal green plan is developing GHG reduction targets and identifying actions that make it possible to meet those reduction targets.

Some of these actions could include electric or smaller more economical vehicles for the town with electric charging stations.

“We have about 68 kilometres of roads that we have to cover in Perth so electric vehicles would make sense,” Fenik said. “The new Ford E 150 is an electric truck that could be a good match for us.”

Water and sewage facility audits, the development of walking and cycling routes and a home-owner tree planting program may also be part of the plan. A facility energy audit by Honeywell is scheduled for the Perth Town Hall in 2017.

“Yes, the audit will help save on utilities and costs, but it also makes a building much more comfortable. Warmer, dryer, less of a draft, things like that,” Campbell said.

“It’s important to note that mitigating climate change is more than just lowering greenhouse gas emissions. It is improving biking and walking paths and preserving the natural and built environments of Perth.”

Fenik said the town plans to follow up with an outcome-monitoring program that will indicate how the whole process is going in summer 2017.

“It’s really about updating the tech now that better stuff is available, and we know that the new technology is more energy efficient and less-harmful for the environment,” Fenik said. For example, the pool and arena could receive some updated, energy efficient technology very soon.

Phase three of the municipal green plan ensures that the plan is designed well so Perth residents and the Town of Perth can actually act on it.

“For example, there’s a lot of organic garbage in the landfill that could be recycled instead. Even that small change would help,” Campbell said.

Fenik says he hopes the Mayor’s Task Force on Local Climate Change will decrease the attitude of doom and gloom that often surrounds discussions of climate change. “If we make small changes, big things can happen,” he said. “I want my grandkids to know that I took a stand for something and they have to inherit that and pass it down.”

In five years, Fenik and Campbell said they would like to see Perth — and the global environment — in a better place than it is now. Campbell said he hopes Perth’s action plans can act as blueprints for other small towns.

Photo Caption: Perth Mayor John Fenik (left) and climate change task force coordinator Sean Campbell pose for a photo in the mayor’s office in before a task force meeting on Jan. 20, 2017. Photo Credit: Jane Hobson.

First published in the February Edition of Hometown News.