2020: A Year in Review

Climate Action Plan graphic

For most of us, 2020 has been a year unlike any other that we have experienced in our lifetime. With the year almost over, I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight some environmentally related initiatives that have taken place in Burlington this year.

In January, Burlington staff began using an updated template for reports to City Council which now includes a ‘Climate Implications’ section. This is in line with the 2019 Climate Emergency Declaration where “Council and staff immediately increase the priority of the fight against climate change and apply a climate lens to the plans and actions of the City of Burlington including the Council strategic workplan and future budgets.”

Burlington’s Climate Action Plan, on climate change mitigation, was approved in April. The focus of this plan is to reduce fossil fuels and includes seven program areas required to help meet Burlington’s target to be a net carbon neutral community, including:

  • Low carbon new buildings
  • Deep energy retrofits of existing buildings
  • Renewable energy
  • Integrated mobility
  • Electric mobility and equipment
  • Waste reduction
  • Industry innovation
Harvest for Burlington Food Bank
Harvest donation for Burlington Food Bank from Maple Park Community Garden plots. Image courtesy of Burlington Food Bank.

Burlington’s five community gardens were eventually permitted to open following COVID-19 safety protocols. Several groups and individuals, including BurlingtonGreen’s Grow to Give program, Burlington Together’s Grow a Row and Open Doors of St. Christopher’s, volunteered to provide fresh food to those in need.

Many organizations remained engaged with residents by switching to online learning. There were and continue to be many options related to environmental or nature-based activities.

Halton District School Board approved a student-led climate emergency declaration in June. While many communities have declared climate emergencies, including Burlington in April 2019, this was the first student-led declaration.

City Council approved the updated Stormwater Management Design Guidelines with standards to minimize and manage flood risks for new developments and redevelopments in Burlington in June. Data provided in the guidelines shows a projected trend towards more frequent events with increased rainfall over a shorter period.

In September, Burlington City Council approved staff’s proposal to work with the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College to develop a deep energy retrofit program for homeowners to help reduce carbon emissions from existing buildings. This initiative is one of the program areas under the Climate Action Plan. Two Home Energy Retrofit Orientation Program webinars were hosted by Humber College and Enbridge Inc. in November.

The Integrated Mobility Plan study was launched in October to plan for a transportation model designed to provide people of all ages and abilities with more travel choices for things like walking, cycling and transit. A workshop was planned in December to update City Council.

The Walk and Roll Challenge was launched in October to encourage residents to find ways to get active in and around their neighbourhood.

BurlingtonGreen hosted Local Stories, Local Solutions in October and I am Greta film in December as part of their work to encourage the community to take action to build a just and sustainable future.

The Halton Climate Collective (HCC Reads) campaign was back in the Fall culminating in the virtual discussion with Sheila Watt-Cloutier, author of The Right to be Cold.

A lot of work has been accomplished in 2020 but much more remains to be done. Stay tuned for a future post about upcoming initiatives in 2021.

Take Action Burlington! Collectively we can make a difference to reduce our impact on our environment.

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