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Muskoka’s Climate Action

In December 2020, the Muskoka District Council officially declared a Climate Emergency, deepening the District’s commitment to reducing Muskoka’s climate change impact, and protecting Muskoka’s community, economy, and ecosystems from the impacts of our changing climate. The District of Muskoka is prioritizing climate change adaptation and mitigation through the measures outlined below:

Climate Change Initiatives Coordinator
Since 2018 the District of Muskoka has dedicated resources for a full-time staff member to focus on all projects relating to climate change initiatives and supporting the actions throughout the District that relate to the environment. Currently, the Climate initiatives Coordinator is working on several action items, identified below, and many others.
 New Leaf Climate Action Plan
  • The Muskoka Climate Change Action PlanThe District’s New Leaf Climate Action Plan was approved by District Council in December 2020.
  • The New Leaf Plan incorporates climate change adaptation and mitigation actions for the corporate and community aspects of climate change. It is a product of interdepartmental efforts across the District with input and direction from the New Leaf Community Working Group (NLCWG) and various stakeholders from the community. The strategic priorities for the action plan were developed to align with the Districts Strategic Plan and are the following:
    • Natural Environment
    • Governance
    • Economy
    • Infrastructure
    • Community
  • Since the New Leaf Action Plan was approved, significant progress has been made with the District actively working on 51 of the 112 MCCAP actions; 38 of the actions are complete or initiated as on-going programs. Additional details on these actions are outlined in the Report to Council – Feb, 24, 2022.   
  • The New Leaf Action Plan aims to create small and large steps to drive change by categorizing goals with short, medium, and long-term actions with financial considerations. 
 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory and Reduction Plan
  • In 2020, The District of Muskoka completed a corporate and community GHG inventory analysis. The hired consultants used data to quantify annual GHG emissions per sector for both corporate and community emissions.
  • The District of Muskoka has ambitious GHG reduction goals which were established during the GHG inventory assessment and are compared to the 2018 GHG baseline:
    • 50% reduction in both community and corporate emissions by 2030
    • Net-zero emissions for both the community and corporate by 2050
  • District of Muskoka’s Corporate GHG emissions breakdown from the 2018 baseline.

 A blue pie chart outlining data

  • Muskoka’s Community GHG emissions breakdown from the 2018 baseline GHG inventory.

A blue pie chart outlining data

  • In 2023, The District of Muskoka will use the GHG inventory data to proceed with the Community and Corporate GHG reduction plans. These will be GHG emission mitigation action plans for both the community emissions and corporate emissions, independently. This process is underway and will require the support of a community working group to provide input. These two action plans are anticipated to be complete by the end of 2023.
  • Stay up to date with the progress of the GHG reduction plans.  Subscribe to Muskoka Greenhouse Gas Initiative Engage Page. 
 Staff Reports
  •  A new process for District staff reports for internal project updates and proposals requires a "Climate Change Implications" section to consider climate impacts (including impacts on GHG, temperature change and precipitation) using the "Clean Air Partnership's Municipal Climate Lens Tool”. Staff must elaborate if the project is net-positive or net-negative to the environment. Net negative impacts must detail any modifications or alternative considerations to reduce the negative impacts resulting in a 3-part summary of how significantly the project effects the environment. Impact summaries are included within Staff Reports and reviewed as part of the decision-making process during Committee or Council meetings. 
  • Training has been conducted to educate Staff on the meaning of the metrics, how the metrics should be considered throughout a project, and how to incorporate climate action into day-to-day work. Council Report – CPS-4-2021-1 - Launch of Staff Report Climate Lens and Climate Initiatives Update 
 Area Municipality Regional Climate Adaptation Plans
  • From August 2021 to early 2023, the District’s Climate Initiatives Coordinator has supported five of Muskoka’s Area Municipalities (Towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst and Townships of Muskoka Lakes and Lake of Bays) in the creation of Area Municipality specific climate change adaptation plans.  A collaborative process involving community stakeholders through the New Leaf Community Working Group including Area Municipality representatives and community experts.
  • During this process, impact; vulnerability; and risk assessments were completed to identify the most significant climate change related impacts likely to pose the biggest threats to Muskoka. The community working group also brainstormed immediate and successive actions to increase each community’s resiliency to the climate change impacts identified.
  • Pending Council approval, each Area Municipality will have an individualized and customized climate change adaptation plan with identified priority actions to increase the community’s climate change resiliency.
  • The plans are currently under review by each Area Municipality Council.  Once approved the final plans will be posted on the District of Municipality of Muskoka Climate Change website page and on individual AM’s Environment websites. 
 Climate Change Related Projects
  • The below projects are examples of ongoing or complete projects or resources that have positive impacts on Muskoka’s climate:
    • Integrated Watershed Management projects: 12 technical projects focusing on examining the existing conditions in the Muskoka River Watershed and exploring ways to reduce the impacts of flooding.
    • Floodplain Mapping: Outlines areas of high flood risk based on the watershed. A useful tool in supporting informed decisions and investments to reduce the impacts of flooding on Muskoka’s infrastructure and communities.
    • Ongoing investigation into potential climate change grants including pollinator gardens and fleet electrification studies.
    • Muskoka’s Roadmap to 60% Waste Diversion: Focuses on reducing household waste by improving the recycling system, increasing composting (green bin) curbside pickup in Muskoka, subsequently reducing greenhouse gas emissions from households in Muskoka.
    • Clean Muskoka Together: A year-round Muskoka-wide community litter clean-up program that provides interested participants with all the tools to complete a litter clean-up. Sign-up to receive your toolkit to clean-up your neighbourhood in time for Provincial Day of Action on Litter - the second Tuesday in May.
    • Household Hazardous Waste Drop off: Hazardous waste including batteries, paint, lightbulbs, aerosol cans, or many other waste products can be very harmful to the environment if thrown in the garbage and taken to a landfill. Muskoka has a free drop-off system scheduled for certain dates throughout Muskoka. Be smart about your hazardous waste and do the right thing.
    • District of Muskoka Transportation Programs: Public transit is a great way to reduce an individual’s greenhouse gas footprint and increase accessibility for individuals without a personal vehicle. Muskoka has been expanding its’ public transit to decrease the community’s greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Water Conservation Tips: Water is a very valuable resource and although Muskoka is fortunate to be surrounded by fresh water, residents of Muskoka must take action to prioritize keeping the water supply contaminant free and use as little as possible. Not only will this help the environment, but it will also reduce household water bills!

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