by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff
Last night, I had the opportunity to join a virtual summit hosted by the grade 8 students at Cummer Valley Middle School. The event brought together representatives of all four levels of government (including our trustee) along with many participants from the community. The message from the students and their keynote speakers was clear: Citizens and their governments need to work together to address the most important crisis of our lifetime. They weren’t talking about COVID-19. They were talking about climate change.
Many of us are searching for ways we can change our daily behaviours to reduce our carbon footprint and confront the global climate crisis. Collectively, we’re becoming more conscious about what we eat, where we shop and how we travel. But big changes can feel overwhelming, and that is where we need coordinated action and support from our governments.
As an example, earlier this week, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities announced funding of up to $14.6 million to support the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP). HELP was launched by the City in 2014 as a tool to offer homeowners low-interest loans to more affordably renovate and improve energy efficiency.
Homes and buildings are the city’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. So reducing them is an important part of the City’s TransformTO Climate Action Strategy and moving towards a zero emissions target. But as with many challenges, there is only so much the City can do on its own.
If you’re interested in taking action by renovating your home, low-interest loans of up to $75,000 are available to fund new insulation, windows, more efficient cooling systems and even rooftop solar. The program helps homeowners avoid large upfront costs while immediately enjoying the savings the come from improved energy efficiency.
New Federal funding will allow the City to expand the program to include even more retrofits and support a larger number of applications. It’s important to acknowledge the engagement of our Federal partners in making this possible.
The students at Cummer Valley were challenging us all to think of small changes we can each undertake to make a collective difference. It’s their generation that will hold the responsibility of our successes or failures. Governments must keep working on making these important choices a bit easier, so we can achieve the changes so urgently needed.
For more information the City’s Environment & Energy office has organized an online webinar to offer more information on the program on Tuesday, March 30, at 12:00 PM.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO6CdPI0Xwc&t=1s