Climate change action plan opens doors for Brandon


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It’s a plan that is good for both our environment and economy. It positions Brandon to be an innovative leader, and it deserves our support.

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It’s a plan that is good for both our environment and economy. It positions Brandon to be an innovative leader, and it deserves our support.

The City of Brandon has released a draft climate change action plan that would position our city to reach a net-zero target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan is the result of public consultations that began last fall. Dozens of citizens attended an open house at city hall to discuss the issue, and approximately 1,000 people responded to two online surveys.

The result of those consultations is an impressive seven-part strategy that would assist the effort to reduce the risk of climate change and also improve the quality of life in our city. The seven components are the following: becoming a carbon-free corporation, transitioning to renewable energy, rethinking transportation, building resilient infrastructure, conserving and protecting nature, preparing for emergencies and consuming and producing sustainably.

Ice clings to the shore of the swollen Assiniboine River in Brandon on a warm day. (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun)

Some of the hard work toward achieving those goals has already begun, including the drainage improvement project in southeast Brandon and municipal programs that encourage residents to install sump pumps and rain gardens. There is also the highly successful green cart compositing program, the gas capture and flaring system at the Eastview Landfill site, our designation as Manitoba’s first Bee City, and the construction of the new municipal airport terminal building to the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) gold certification level.

All of that is a good start, but the new climate change action plan makes clear that we can do more.

The public consultations have resulted in a strategy to preserve areas with sensitive ecosystems, create emergency water sources to protect us against drought, address food security, create a year-round municipal composting program, develop a low-cost tree planting program, expand energy-efficient retrofitting programs for homes, include climate events in Brandon’s emergency management plans, and create a protected network of bicycle paths throughout the city.

The plan calls for the City of Brandon to transition to zero-emission vehicles, a carbon-neutral building standard for its new buildings, retrofitting its existing buildings to be more energy efficient, and the installation of renewable energy technologies such as solar panels.

The plan also encourages city council to make Brandon Transit a more attractive and widely used method for moving citizens throughout the city. With more than 90 per cent of transportation in the city currently done via cars, trucks and vans, there is ample opportunity for an expanded and improved public transit system to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce traffic congestion, lower the number of traffic accidents, decrease the cost of traffic law-enforcement measures and slow the pace of degradation along our roads.

Most of all, the draft plan makes clear that Brandonites want their city to be an active participant in fighting the impact of climate change. That is a commendable goal, but our city can do more than be just an active participant.

A draft copy of the climate change action plan can be found on the city’s website at

With this new plan, Brandon can set a practical, affordable and effective example for local governments throughout Canada and North America to emulate.

In fact, we are already doing that. We have been innovators with our green cart composting program, our recycling program and our landfill gas recapture system. Many municipalities are years behind Brandon in the implementation of climate change mitigation measures.

Beyond that, making Brandon a leader in climate change mitigation would position our city to reap the massive economic benefits that will come with being a centre of green innovation. For example, many large international companies include criteria such as access to renewable energy and commitment to climate change impact mitigation as important factors in deciding where to locate their new facilities.

As well, it makes sense for companies engaged in the development of “green” technologies to locate in a city that is committed to a cleaner, greener future through the use of those technologies.

There are few government policies that can be credibly described as “win-win,” but this new climate change action plan may well fit within that category. It is a reasonable-cost, high-reward opportunity to improve the lives of our citizens, protect our environment and strengthen our economy.

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