Mapleton council receives report on local greenhouse gas emissions

MAPLETON – An inventory of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced within Mapleton shows the lion’s share are transportation related.

A study by CIMA consulting engineers indicates 46.3% of local emissions come from “on-road transportation” sources.

Manufacturing, at 15.8%, accounts for the next highest output of GHGs, followed by:

  • agriculture, forestry and fishing, 14.2%;
  • commercial, 12.7%;
  • residential, 9.8%; and
  • solid waste, 1%.

The study originated with council’s direction on March 22, 2022 to CAO Manny Baron to work with CIMA to create a plan “allowing Mapleton to transition towards a sustainable way of doing business and develop a plan to combat climate change.”

Goals of the study included:

  • establishing a base-year GHG emissions inventory;
  • setting GHG reduction targets and track performance;
  • ensuring consistent and transparent measurement and reporting of GHG emissions; and
  • providing data for benchmarking purposes of comparable GHG data with other Canadian municipalities.

The study, presented to council on Feb. 28, included community workshops to help identify GHG reduction targets and strategies and to research applicable grant and incentive programs.

The study calculated vehicle usage within the municipality using data from the Transportation Tomorrow survey (a collaboration of municipal and provincial agencies), census data and Statistics Canada information on vehicle sales within the region.

Emissions for other categories were calculated using data from local utility providers, County of Wellington solid waste services and other sources.

“The data therefore shows that about 45% of the overall township’s profile is derived from on-road transportation and emissions derived from fossil fuel combustion,” explained CIMA+ sustainable development professional Aleksandra Lazarevic.

“So this is from diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles.”

Lazarevic added, “After gaining an understanding of the overall inventory of the township, it’s important to set reduction measures and targets into place to work towards a goal in alignment with that of the Government of Canada’s net zero emissions by 2050.”

The report outlines a variety of reduction measures focused on areas that had been brought up during community engagement sessions in December.

The study, which sets a base year of 2021, suggests emission reduction targets for 2023 of:

  • 10% below 2021 levels for community emissions; and
  • 15% below 2021 levels for corporate emissions.

A target of 80% below 2021 levels by 2050 is suggested for overall Mapleton Township emissions.

“We can see that it’s important to focus on education and awareness,” Lazarevic noted.

“So as an example, forming a sustainability committee within the township and educating some of the younger youth and inspiring them on climate change and the topics around climate change.”

On Jan. 31, council approved a motion to establish a committee to provide advice on matters of environmental stewardship.

The building sector accounts for a considerable portion of emissions, she said.

However, “through actions like improving building envelopes, electrification of appliances and renewable energy sources” the targets are “definitely attainable.”

Lazarevic suggested transportation emissions could be lowered “through integration of smart city planning, through bike paths and EV charging stations.

“We understand that this is something that Mapleton will be implementing, which is excellent,” she noted.

Decreasing waste production and increasing waste diversion “will definitely be attainable through an increase in educational and awareness campaigns,” she suggested.

Lazarevic also pointed out provincial and federal funds aimed at reducing climate change are available to assist with emission reductions in the agricultural sector.

Soil carbon management through methods like crop rotation and perennial cropping, using agroforestry (integrating trees and shrubs to the rural landscape) are among the measures that could help in the agriculture sector, she noted.

“I understand that there are a lot of windbreaks currently within the community. This can increase land productivity,” she said.

“Through enteric fermentation there’s great ongoing research that’s being focused on how to decrease the emissions from livestock.

“Crop management – there’s also opportunities here, through slow- and controlled-release fertilizers and then manure management as well.”

Baron pointed out that during the community workshop portion of the study, the agriculture community sessions was “much better attended” than the session for the general public and the township received a number of calls prior to the Feb. 28 meeting expressing concern “that we weren’t proactive in sharing the information that this was going to be presented at council.”

He added, “I just wanted to make sure that our partners in the agricultural part of Mapleton understand that they are indeed an important part of this conversation. And it’s just process, because council was wise enough to ask for a committee to be struck to deal with these kinds of things.

“And once that committee is struck, and once the terms of reference and things are all ironed out, we absolutely will look forward to discussing this report and other environmental issues with the agricultural community.”

“I know, there’s some fear within the community that (with) this sort of report … our plan is to kind of legislate … farmers out of farming. And of course that’s not what we want to do here,” said councillor Marlene Ottens.

“Having our sustainability committee or whatever we’re going to call it, I think it’s really important to get some of these people involved in that and have that input.”

Ottens pointed out Mapleton is one of the first townships “that’s doing this sort of thing.

“So we’re lucky. We can set the precedents, rather than being forced to follow, maybe, what other communities have been doing,” she said.

“We can, like I said, set a precedent and show other communities how to do this and keep the farming community going without legislating them out of business.”

“We are a farming community, but we are supportive of reducing GHG. And if we can work with our farming community to help them reduce their GHG, fantastic,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.

The mayor added any member of the public who wishes to be considered for the planned environmental stewardship committee can send an email to township clerk Larry Wheeler “and they will be considered.”

Council received the delegation’s presentation, including the recommended reduction targets and measures, for information.