What I Heard at AMO

I attended the virtual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference for Aug. 17-20.  As I found these conferences in past years to be worthwhil I looked forward to it and was curious as to how effective it would be as a virtual experience.  Again, there was some good content; and the virtual experience was excellent.  As is the case in any profession, there is value to get out of one’s own “sand box” and hear what others are doing.  And what is really valuable in this conference is hearing experts and people with deep experience on topics of interest. Looking at the agenda I was excited to see how many speakers were focused on strategies to respond to the climate emergency.

  • Credit Valley Conservation talked about their work to evaluate natural assets in monetary terms and to prioritizing remediation of  natural assets in response to climate change.
  • From several speakers I heard about new arenas being built with energy efficiency and Green house gas reductions way beyond our current building code.
  • I joined a delegation of the Ontario Climate Caucus with Minister Yurek (Environment, Conservation and Parks); most of our time was spent talking how a program to incent building retrofits would be good for the local economy (because of the skilled trades required to do the work) and good for the environment as the retrofits would be targeted to reduce energy consumption and emission of green house gases
  • The need to electrify vehicles was discussed as they are the source of 25% of GHG emissions in Canada.  I learned about Plug ‘n Drive’s EV Discovery Centre just a few kilometers south of us. And I heard the idea of including in our RFP’s (request for proposals) that the low emitting construction vehicles should be used.
  • And I heard reinforcement of the need to intensify.  One person spoke very bluntly:  land use is critical to climate change.  Changing the way we plan and build our communities is very difficult and controversial particularly if trying to do so where a community already exists; unfortunately the communities being built on greenfield sites are too often built in the traditional way: single detached. One bold idea presented was building new houses so that they are resilient; specifically, building such that it can be easily converted to have two dwellings, to make an addition when ownership changes or life circumstance changes.

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Over the next several weeks I will be talking with Staff; in some cases I know already that we are following a comparable strategy but there are others where I am not so sure and there may be some re-application opportunity.

 

2 Responses to “ “What I Heard at AMO”

  1. J. Bruce Craig says:

    Thank you for sharing several of the highlights of the 2020 AMO Conference. It sounds like there are helpful advancements in reducing energy and GHG’s through retrofits, new design, etc. I like the idea of designing new builds to be able to become two dwellings through conversion and/or addition. Was solar energy through roof mounted panels recommended?

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