Ahh spring is in the air!
In a couple of weeks, we will be listening to choirs of peepers and chorus frogs that are the first to come to life in the early spring. Low lying areas will become vernal pools, hosting a diversity of insects, frogs, and amphibians. Familiar birds we haven’t seen since last fall, will return at last and greet the new season with their songs. As we are amidst the season when we often feel discouraged by the random snow events and mud, it’s important to remember that beauty is all around if we take the time to find it and acknowledge it. This wet season gives life to beauty that is to come.
CNL has made great progress and taken a powerful stance on matters of the climate this month. At the beginning of the month, we hosted a great workshop on Nature-Based Climate Solutions that aimed to share ideas and knowledge around wetlands in the face of Bill 23. This workshop hosted a collection of some of the most knowledgeable people working on environmental issues in this province, providing attendees with great take-away information. Read on to learn more about this amazing workshop hosted by our very own Gord Harrison!
In addition, CNL took a stance to hold the county responsible for its climate commitments. Read our County Updates to learn more about this effort taken by our devoted supporters.
For Actions You Can Take this month, make sure to make some time for Mother Earth this Earth Day! Whether you plan to celebrate alone or with the Lanark County community there is something for everyone.
Thank you for your continued support,
The CNL Team
1. CNL Update
Just why are Wetlands Wonderful, especially when it comes to climate disruption?
- Wetlands sequester carbon—two to five times as much as forests and other ecosystems. Wetlands located in southern Ontario alone have stored approximately 1,200 tonnes/hectare of organic carbon (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, 2018).
- Wetlands also provide a wide array of climate adaptation and ecological services: reducing the frequency and severity of flooding; evening out water flows, especially important in drought-years; groundwater recharge; erosion control; and, water filtration.
- And of course wetlands are habitat to a wonderful diversity of plants and animals, and support the biodiversity in surrounding areas.Wetlands are one of a suite of nature-based climate solutions. Combined with cutting fossil-fuel use, boosting energy efficiency and accelerating clean-energy innovation, Nature-Based Climate Solutions (NBCS) offer powerful and cost-effective ways to tackle the climate crisis.
Lanark County Wetlands—A Responsibility and Opportunity!
- Lanark County is blessed with over 30,000 hectares of wetlands, one of the largest in southern Ontario.
Bill 23 threatens the ability of communities, conservation authorities and municipalities to
- In the fall of 2022, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 23—the so-called “More Homes Built Faster Act”.
- Among many other draconian parts of this bill, it prevents conservation authorities from reviewing and commenting on specific planning applications while also gutting the wetland evaluation system (ie. Under Bill 23, wetland evaluation criteria used to include endangered species and evaluate impacts is no longer considered).
CNL holds workshop on protecting wetlands:
- All of us have a responsibility to protect wetlands to ensure they continue providing critical climate and ecological services—as well as for their intrinsic value and for the well-being that natural spaces affords us humans. This is an opportunity a number of organizations have seized….
- On March 9, CNL convened a workshop of the many organization committed to protecting wetlands and finding a work-around to Bill 23. Participants included: Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative, Carleton Place Urban Forest Committee, County of Lanark, Ducks Unlimited, Mississippi-Madawaska Land Trust, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, Tay Valley Township, The Land Between, and Watersheds Canada.
- The participants endorsed key actions:
- Ask the County, working with the conservation authorities and others, to undertake a Natural Heritage Systems Plan; this would include mapping of the watersheds and provide municipalities with the intel to review planning applications and protect wetlands along with all natural systems.
- Provide a workshop for all municipal planners on nature-based climate solutions.
- Educate all municipal councillors.
- Support landowners in protecting wetlands.
- CNL is working with our many partners to implement these. CNL’s work is made possible with the support of Nature Canada.
A Special Thank You!
Thank you to everybody who came out to our movie screening of Kiss the Earth! It was a truly engaging evening and would not have been without our insightful and knowledgeable attendees. A huge thank you to the organizers of the event; our dedicated volunteer members of our CNL Composting and Farms working groups.
2. County Update
SNL Responds to County Decision on Natural Gas Retrofit at Lanark County Housing Corporation
Lanark County Council has taken a decision that makes the climate crisis worse by increasing its use of natural gas in its retrofits of three social housing buildings.
The County chose not to explore a proposal that Climate Network Lanark estimated would have saved them about $500,000 and not increased their greenhouse gas emissions through using electric, air-source heat pumps instead of natural gas boilers and water heat.
In a presentation to Council on Mar. 22, County Councillor and Tay Valley Township Reeve Rob Rainer, elaborated on the proposal CNL had developed. CNL had tapped into its extensive network of expertise in the community to develop a proposal for the retrofit using electric air source heat pumps.
“We are enormously disappointed,” said CNL Chair Scott Hortop. “This was such a missed opportunity. As well, it means the County will have to go to extraordinary lengths to create cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.”
The units are 54 years old, according to Emily Hollington, Director of Social Services. She noted the hot water system in Smiths Falls had failed in 2021 and was replaced by a gas boiler. A few weeks ago, the hot water tank in the Almonte building caused the basement to flood.
County Councillor and Mississippi Mayor Christa Lowry said this failure was a big factor in her decision to support the gas retrofits. “We’re at the end of March and we have a duty of care to the folks we’re providing housing to, and I don’t want to be in that position where we’re failing… this is where people live,” InsideOttawaValley reported she said. “That’s not to say the commitment this council has made to climate action isn’t a priority; it absolutely is. We’ve got competing priorities here. We’re in the midst of a process and at this point, to change our course, is something I can’t support.”
CNL is not unsympathetic to the urgent need but noted that with the current plan, the gas project has the Smiths Falls building being retrofitted this year, with the other two waiting until 2024.
The process started three years ago and was based on a Request for Proposals that only specified gas boilers and water heat. Despite going to tender three times, the RFP was never revised to accommodate electric heat pumps. Last year, after inquiries from CNL and the County’s Climate Action Committee, a comment from the County’s engineering firm, JL Richards, was sought. The firm gave a verbal indication to Council and staff in which it said developing new specifications that would include air-source heat pumps would cost $19,000. Council voted down spending that money to have the new specifications. Consequently, mini-split air-source heat pumps using the existing electric baseboard heaters as back-up were never assessed.
Two of the heat pump contractors CNL contacted said they would be interested in doing the work and had checked that there were sufficient units in their supply chain to serve the project.
During the discussion, it was mentioned that the County would achieve its 20% GHG reduction target by switching to electric tools from fossil fuel ones (lawnmowers, etc.) and from the solar PV systems it has installed on some social housing buildings.
Using the Climate Lens that County staff have been trained in, but did not use for this evaluation, Bob Argue, the creator of the Lens, noted that “over the lifetime (of the gas equipment) of 25 years, the PV’s will offset only four months of the first year from the natural gas. All the rest (of the GHGs from the gas system) are planet killers.” The County had adopted use of Argue’s specific Climate Lens Tool last year when it approved the Climate Action Tables. Those same Tables include 6 principles the County also adopted, including eliminating fossil fuels and maximizing energy efficiencies.
“As well, the County’s expressed reduction target of only 20% by 2030 is already out of date,”noted CNL Director Susan Brandum. “The recent IPCC reports are abundantly clear that our target has to be 45%, our national target is 45% and the recommended target from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that the County is contracted with is 45% by 2030.”
One positive action came out of the issue. “In raising this, and the controversy it created, all the new Councillors on County Council – 10 out of the 16 — became aware of the commitment that the County has made to climate action. They now know that they have committed to eliminating fossil fuels and to using the Climate Lens,” said Brandum. She did note the Councillors need additional clarification about using the specific Lens developed by local expert Bob Argue. “It’s not enough to just say you have the climate crisis in mind, these are real calculations that can be made that help a Council, a business or an individual determine the cost-effectiveness of particular climate actions.”
CNL provided research, references to prior, similar, successful projects in Ontario and a price estimate consistent with other completed projects. The Climate Lens showed that annually 136 tonnes of CO2 equivalents or 5.5% of the County’s total emissions could be avoided with this one decision. Heat pumps also provide air conditioning which years ago was seen as a luxury but is now a health issue in an extreme heat event.
Lanark County residents Sue Green and Anita Payne presented the County Council with a petition in favour of heat pumps signed by more than 1,300 people. Climate Network Lanark members and climate-conscious citizens gathered before the meeting in front of the Lanark County administration building in Perth, to signal to County Council members their opposition to new installations of natural gas infrastructure. Inside, Climate Network Lanark (CNL) members had placed muffins at each Councillor’s desk, each bearing a different name of a local person who uses an electric heat pump.
Brandum and other CNL directors plan to make presentations to all the lower-tier Councils over the next couple of months to inform them about CNL, about the contributions CNL made to the County’s Climate Action Tables, and the specific principles the County has committed to implementing. They intend to make the point that the County cannot achieve these goals on its own. “If Lanark County as a whole is to cut its emissions as the Earth and humanity need people to, it will take the involvement of all sectors of the County – the governments, business, organizations, and individuals. Getting us out of this mess will take everyone,” said Hortop.
The day ended with a small but important forward step. Council passed a further motion from County Councillor and Beckwith Reeve Richard Kidd, asking staff to bring back a report on alternative heating options to be prepared for future options in community housing. “CNL will watch for the opportunity to celebrate this motion being fulfilled in good measure,” said Brandum.
Lanark County’s Climate Action Principles
- Create a climate conscious culture and community
- Eliminate fossil fuels
- Maximize energy efficiencies and increase renewable energy generation
- Reduce waste
- Increase funding, accessibility and education
- Sequester carbon and protect natural resources
3. Events and Learning
April 4th Release of Perth and District Vital Signs report and Living Library – 4:00pm – 6:00pm at the Perth and District Union Library (30 Herriot Street) CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
April 5th Probus Perth Presents Susan Brandum CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
April 6th Rideau Lakes Horticultural Society present Michael Runtz “The Clever World of Wildflowers”@ Elgin Municipal Complex 7:00pm – 9:00pm
April 13th Friends of the Tay Watershed focus on local Climate Action with Sue Brandum and Glenn Tunnock @ 7pm (On Zoom) Contact FoTW for more information CLICK HERE TO CONTACT
April 17th “Taking Charge of Our Future: is it time to buy an electric vehicle?” Perth and District Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women at the Legion in Perth. Doors open at 6:30 pm event starts @ 7:00 pm CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
April 20th- “Into The Planet”: Spring Gathering hosted by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists 6:45pm -9 :00pm CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
April 22nd-Carleton Place Earth Day organized by CPEAC, Market Square Pavillion Beckwith Street and Lake Avenue, 11:00am – 3:00pm
April 22nd Perth Trashure Hunt organized by the Perth Climate Action Panel 9:00 am – 1:00pm, Check in at Crystal Palace, Perth CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
April 22nd Lanark Highlands Library Earth Day Event- 11:30am – 1:00pm CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Local Events with a CNL Voice
Probus Perth (April 5th)
Probus Perth is pleased to announce that Sue Brandum – a co-founder of Climate Network Lanark (CNL) will be our featured speaker on April 5th at the Perth Legion. Climate Network Lanark’s mission is to lead and assist Lanark County towards a net zero-carbon environment by connecting and coordinating a variety of local initiatives that will markedly improve the overall health and sustainability of our communities. Our Probus Perth membership is eager to hear about the CNL’s programs related to our common challenge to reverse global warming and build stronger caring communities. See our Events and Learning section to learn more about this event.
Living Library for the Vital Signs Report (April 4th)
Sue Brandum will be part of the Living Library for the Vital Signs Report to talk about protecting the natural environment in Lanark County.
Agenda for the Evening
Doors open at 4:00 – There will be copies of the report and snacks available. Children are welcome.
4:30-5:00 – Welcome, Vital Signs Report Background, Key Findings
5:00-5:30 – First Round of “Living Library Books” (small group discussions)
5:30-6:00 – Second Round of Living Library Books” (small group discussions)
6:00 – Those who wish to come back to the plenary room for more snacks and conversation are welcome to linger.
“Taking Charge of Our Future: is it time to buy an electric vehicle?” (April 17th)
The Perth and District Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) will be hosting an event about electric vehicles (EVs). Please join CFUW Perth and District for our monthly meeting, which will feature an electrifying evening of learning and discussion about EVs. Are you thinking of buying an EV, but are hesitant? Are there enough chargers in place? Is battery range sufficient for your travel needs? What about EVs in winter and how do they perform in eastern Ontario’s climate? Our evening presentation, Taking Charge of Our Future: is it time to buy an electric vehicle?, is an EV 101 session which will include a presentation and panel discussion on the pros and cons of EV ownership. Bring your curiosity and question for an evening of learning. The public is welcome to attend.
4. Volunteer Spotlight- Meet Alberto!
Alberto Suarez Esteban grew up helping his grandparents in their gardens and farms in NW Spain. His passion for Nature and desire to protect it led him to a PhD in Ecology. During his 10 years in academia, he realized how damaging industrial agriculture is to our planet. He saw this as an opportunity: if we manage to grow food in a way that gives back to Nature and restores ecosystems, as opposed to extracting and degrading, we can literally change the world. In 2019 he co-founded Nature’s Apprentice Farm in Pakenham to contribute to the regeneration of soil health, human health and biodiversity. His mission is to empower the community to eat fresh and delicious food that helps biodiversity and sequesters carbon in the soil. Alberto loves learning and inspiring other people. He teaches Biology courses at Carleton University and regularly shares his farming experiences in workshops, talks and farm tours. Alberto is a climate advocate and a proud member of CNL’s farm working group. He loves sharing ideas with the CNL team and working collaboratively to improve local food security and facilitate the widespread adoption of regenerative agriculture by producers of all scales and backgrounds.
5. Local Climate Action in the News
“Climate action groups appeal to Lanark County council over ‘climate killing’ natural gas retrofits” by Ashely Kulp
“Lanark County awards tender for social housing heating retrofit”
“Smiths Falls forming climate action committee”
“Gas vs. electric debate resurfaces over replacement of Lanark County social housing heating systems” by Ashley Kulp
The Butterflyway Diaries, Episode 6: “A Nation on Fire”
“Earth Day — So Much to Celebrate!” By Chandler Swain
6. Actions You Can Take
Food Close to Home- Good for you and the climate!
Take some time this Earth Day to celebrate the mother who connects us all! Celebrating Earth Day can be a reflective day to spend time honouring nature alone, or a great opportunity to gather and celebrate collectively. To celebrate Earth Day, is to take positive action to show compassion towards the earth.
Celebrating Earth Day on your own? Create a positive habit or start a new tradition!
How can you celebrate Earth Day in Lanark County with others?
Perth’s Climate Change Action Panel invites you to take part in the Trashure Hunt – an event for and by the community of Perth. Join us on April 22rd as we celebrate Earth Day by doing a town-wide clean-up, followed by eco and family-friendly fun!
The day will begin at the Crystal Palace where we’ll gather into groups, get a clean-up kit including bags and gloves, and head out to collect litter throughout town. Afterward, we’ll return to the Crystal Palace for some food and the opportunity to learn more about some great eco-friendly organizations!
As a thank you for your efforts, volunteers will get;
- Delicious food and drinks courtesy of Maximilian Restaurant, The Locks Restaurant, Mex&Co, Gather, Twisted Fork, Marie Giacomin, and The Table Community Food Centre,
- a complimentary seed pack from the Perth & District Union Library
- a chance to win some great prizes, generously donated by local shops and restaurants
Carleton Place Environmental Advisory Committee is hosting a wonderful and FREE Earth Day event, and you better believe that CNL will be there! The event will take place 11:00am-3:00pm on Saturday, April 22nd at Market Square (7 Beckwith Street, Carleton Place). Live entertainment with fabulous Trio-the Broken Bridges, 5 Facilitated Workshops for adults, Activities and workshops for children and youth, free face painting, learn about area community non-profits doing great things! Mini-market, Food and refreshments available on site. FREE draw – You could win a FOODCYCLER!
The Lanark Highlands Library is hosting a wonderful day of stories, eco-friendly crafts, and healthy snacks. They are also hosting Tam from OURTurtles to the Library to speak about Observing, Understanding, and Rescuing turtles! This is a drop-in program for all ages.
Earth Day — So Much to Celebrate!
Has April 22 got a big green and blue circle around it on your calendar? .. read more
The Butterflyway Diaries, Episode 6: “A Nation on Fire”
Somewhere along the Tay River there lies a secret garden. .. watch here
Gas vs. electric debate resurfaces over replacement of Lanark County social housing heating systems
When the electric versus gas debate was discussed back in May 2022, county council endorsed gas boilers over air source heat pumps recommended by the county’s climate action committee. .. read more
Smiths Falls forming climate action committee
Senior Planner Karl Grenke says their focus of course is on a greener town. .. listen here
Lanark County awards tender for social housing heating retrofit
On Wednesday night (March 22), a motion to defer the recommended tender approval in order to explore the option of heat pumps by Councillor Rob Rainer was defeated. .. read and listen
Climate action groups appeal to Lanark County council over ‘climate killing’ natural gas retrofits
Climate Network Lanark has a proposal for electric air-source heat pumps that would cost 55 per cent less. .. read more
Vendors sought for Earth Day event in Carleton Place
Carleton Place’s Environmental Advisory Committee is in search of event vendors — local or Lanark County artisans, makers, artists and businesses or non-profit organizations - for Earth Day on April 22. .. read more
‘Warmer winters’: Is Skate the Lake’s cancellation a sign of things to come?
Winters are warming — impacting local communities and recreation opportunities. This year, Portland's Skate the Lake appears to be a casualty of climate change. .. read more
In Focus – Gord Harrison from Climate Network Lanark
Lynda welcomes Gord Harrison from Climate Network Lanark who offers an update on his organization’s work. .. listen here