To The Editor,

Last week, on November 10, the United Counties of Prescott-Russell Council agreed to consider joining a national program for municipalities that want a local climate action plan. The Partners for Climate Protection program offers support and resources to over 500 municipalities in Canada that intend to lower their greenhouse gas emissions while saving energy costs, growing jobs and improving quality of life for their residents.

Two representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities attended UCPR Council’s meeting to explain the program. They showed council examples of the tools available to help municipalities navigate the work of making an initial inventory of a municipality’s greenhouse gas emissions, then planning and implementing beneficial changes and, later, tracking the effectiveness of the municipality’s efforts to reduce emissions. They answered questions and reminded council that membership is free. Finally, they invited mayors to join, explore the program and give staff access to its resources and planning tools.

After their presentation, the mayors responded with thanks, interest and caution. Mayors Paula Assaly of Hawkesbury and Mario Zanth of Clarence-Rockland asked if their Councils could receive the same presentation. There was also concern about the UCPR’s authority and ability to manage a UCPR climate action plan that includes the eight municipalities.

Council then considered how to respond to the three requests of the UCPR Coalition for Climate Action, namely, that UCPR join the Partners for Climate Protection program, develop a climate action plan for Prescott-Russell, and form a working group to create the plan. Russell Township recently joined the Partners for Climate Protection program on its own. Russell’s mayor, Pierre Leroux, proposed that UCPR join the program and encourage each municipality to join separately. He suggested asking South Nation Conservation Authority to help with the working group. Council gave the nod to his proposal and will discuss it further, then decide on the path forward at a future meeting.

Lynn Ovenden