Ready for the Cut? Waterloo Region continues sustainability

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by Harleen Kaur Dhilonw

While the provincial government tries to set us back to the 20th century, Waterloo Region continues its trudge into the future. Despite provincial cuts on renewable energy, Waterloo Region will continue to work towards sustainability.

The Energy Management Plan outlined in February is still in effect as the Region adapts to the new conditions set by Doug Ford’s government.

Region of Waterloo committed $20,000 to the implementation of the Communuity Energy Investment Strategy (CEIS) for 2018-2019. In addition, $25 000 were offered for 2020-2022, but this sum is subject to reconfirmation. A manager has also been hired for three years to oversee the project.

This is a combined effort of the Region, as well as six local municipalities and the regional energy utilities. The four goals of the strategy are: to improve energy usage in buildings, to transition to low-carbon transportation, enhance local energy generation, and support innovative energy investments.

In July of this year, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives cancelled 758 Green Energy Project contracts, with Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Northern Development claiming they were, “unnecessary and wasteful.”

All of the contracts cancelled had not reached development milestones. By cancelling projects in the early stage, the government hopes to maximize savings, $790 million in savings, to be exact. Both supporters and opponents of this decision have expressed doubt at this claim.

Fraser Institute’s Senior Policy Analyst Ashley Stedman and Associate Director of Nature Studies Elmira Aliakbari stated in an article that, “cancelling the contracts […] will help prevent future price increases [but] it likely won’t reduce electricity prices anytime soon.”

The reason being since all of the projects were in early stages, their cancellation won’t change much.

Robert Gibson, Professor in the Environment Faculty at UW and Sustainability Researcher thought that there will be no future gains at all.

“[It] is short sighted, as is the broader suite of decisions to dismantle efforts to mitigate climate change.  That agenda plays the politics of immediate advantage to the detriment of future interests, including [future generations],” he said.

It may seem as if years worth of work in environmental sustainability is being undone, but in an article on CBC News, Kate Bueckert quoted Brian May, MP in Cambridge.

“It’s going to be difficult for [the provincial government], to kind of go backwards and not follow us forward,” he said.

The Region of Waterloo, and other regions will continue to move forward to a more sustainable society.