On November 15, 2021, the Halton Hills Town Council did something no Canadian community has done before: it unanimously approved a strategy for the community to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.
Located on the northwestern edge of the Greater Toronto Area with a population of about 60,000 people, Halton Hills is a fast-growing town with big climate ambition. In 2019, Halton Hills Town Council challenged themselves to a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, joining the ranks of global climate leaders like Glasgow, Scotland; Bristol, England; and Ithaca, NY. In 2020, they hired SSG to help them develop an evidence-based and community-informed pathway to get there.
The Town’s Low-Carbon Transition Strategy is the result of over a year of technical analysis and engagement with a Multi-Stakeholder Governance Committee and the public. The committee—with membership from the Town corporation, utilities, institutions, businesses, industry, environmental nonprofits, and the community—played a critical role in strategy development. It dedicated over a dozen hours to learning about the planning process and provided detailed input on what measures would work for the community.
Like many other community decarbonization plans, this one features:
- Deep energy retrofits and electrification of homes and businesses;
- Net-zero emissions new buildings;
- Increased walking and cycling trips, and electric transit;
- Switching from combustion engine to electric vehicles;
- Diversion of organic waste away from landfill; and
- Increased renewable energy generation.
The plan’s timeline is unique: it shrinks into eight years what other communities are planning to accomplish over 28.
A major challenge in achieving the 2030 net-zero goal is vehicle emissions. Even with ambitious goals to shift vehicle trips to be made by active transportation and transit trips instead, some gas and diesel vehicles will still be on the road in 2030. One potential strategy to reach the net-zero goal despite remaining vehicle emissions is to purchase carbon offsets. The Town continues to explore options like this and is committed to moving forward in other areas they can effectively decarbonize.
To get in touch with us about how we can help your municipality reach net zero, contact us here.