A Strategic Look: Priority #3 – Demonstrate Leadership on Climate Action

Beginning in early January and, through public consultation and a number of additional special meetings, Kingston City Council set out its five strategic priorities through 2022, which they affirmed and approved an implementation plan for at their meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Today, we take a more in-depth look at the timely priority #3: Demonstrate Leadership on Climate Action. Council approved five primary projects and priorities within this goal:

  1. The city is seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all city operations by 15 per cent by 2022. To do so, Staff are looking to to combine the corporate climate action plan and the community climate action plan, along with other smaller initiatives, into the the Climate Change Management Strategy, which they are looking to present to council in 2021. The creation of this new strategy will include significant public engagement, online feedback and open houses, as well as feedback and engagement from partners and stakeholders. It is estimated to cost $200,000, up to 50 per cent of which is expected to be funded through grants with the balance coming through future capital budgets. Included in this project is also the retrofit of city buildings to reduce emissions by an estimated two to three per cent, the purchase of electric vehicles (estimated 7 per cent reduction), and the purchase of carbon offsets to reach the target date. Retrofits and fleet purchases are each expected to cost $8 million, with most of this funding coming from the deferred capital projects outlined in priority 2.
  2. Council is looking to enhance and expand green spaces, while protecting wetlands and increasing the tree canopy through greening initiatives, which will include an additional 3,600 tree plantings (to supplement the 4,250 scheduled for 2019-2022 through the emerald ash borer and existing tree canopy programs). Increasing the tree planting will also look to deferred capital projects for its funding. A plan for wetlands has yet to be developed, but will be done by staff before 2022, and projects coming from the new plan are expected to be funded through the ongoing capital budget.
  3. An incremental electrification of the city’s vehicle fleet (including transit) is planned. This includes: the purchase of two electric buses and charging equipment; the replacement of eight light duty vehicles and the Zambonis to electric versions (if feasible); the potential purchase of an additional 10 electric buses by 2022, and; an electricity capacity study to support the bus and fleet purchases. There’s an incremental capital cost to the transit changes of approximately $8 million, with additional fleet conversions costing a further $100,000. This project will also use the funds from deferred capital projects for its cost.
  4. Council is looking to target recycling and waste reduction strategies for businesses, institutions, and multi-residential buildings. This project includes exploring the opportunity for dual stream recycling, which is anticipated to be decided by council in summer 2019 for implementation in 2021 and should increase capture of recyclables by 500 tonnes annually. An expansion to the green bin and recycling program for multi-residential properties would add 600 new units to recycling programs and 200 units to the green bin program by 2022, while eliminating fees for elementary schools to participate in the green bin program. Costs for these changes were either already approved in 2018, are able to be absorbed in existing budgets, or have yet to be finalized and will be reported to council ahead of implementation. The city remains focused on their goal of 65 per cent landfill diversion by 2025.
  5. Lastly, the city is hoping to develop and promote incentives for residents to reduce their energy use, hoping that residents are keen to become part of citywide solutions to meet Kingston’s carbon neutral target. This would include the creation of an energy retrofit program targeting specific appliances, the development of new net-zero policies and incentives for new builds, and a review of the development policies to identify barriers to — and opportunities for — energy and carbon reduction. Most of the costing for this item is anticipated to be funded by grants available through the Low Carbon Economy Fund and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Other costs will be identified and presented to council as work on this priority begins with first reports expected in 2020.

Priority three, given the city’s recent climate emergency declaration should be an interesting one to monitor and track. Alongside this priority, a few councillors are also working on a motion to create a Community Climate Action working group. Like others, this priority will be tracked through a quarterly report to council.

This is the third of a five-part series looking at the projects the city has listed as part of their 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Part 4, focusing on strengthening economic development opportunities will be available next week. See also part 1 on increasing housing affordability and part 2 on improving walkability, roads and transportation.


Born and raised in Kingston, Tommy Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, he first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When he isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s an avid gamer, theatre supporter, and Disney fan.

One thought on “A Strategic Look: Priority #3 – Demonstrate Leadership on Climate Action

  • In my opinion, declaring a “climate emergency” means that EVERY single City decision asks the question “Is this decision beneficial for the climate”. Every decision, every discussion, every debate. If it’s an emergency, it comes first. I don’t see this level of “leadership” demonstrated. I’m looking forward to your further articles on this – how much is City Council walking the talk on this one.

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