Peterborough candidates answer climate change questions: Part 6

Columnist Tricia Clarkson.Columnist Tricia Clarkson.

This is Part 6 of municipal candidates’ views on climate change. Each candidate will be given equal opportunity to respond to the following questions every week until the municipal election. Thursday, Sept. 29th is the final deadline to receive responses from candidates.

Here are this week’s responses from council candidates Lyle Saunders, Shauna Kingston and Eleanor Underwood.

1. Do you consider yourself to be a “progressive” candidate and if so, why?

2. Where will you put climate change on your list of priorities if elected (considering the city’s climate emergency declaration)

3. What would you do to reduce emissions by the necessary 6% annually for the next four years to meet the city’s CCAP target of a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030?

4. Would you be willing to take on the city’s climate change portfolio?

Lyle Saunders, Monaghan Ward 2

1. Yes. I consider myself to be a progressive candidate–with fiscal responsibility. We need to invest in our city to address our current needs and also ensure we’re building for the growth Peterborough is expecting in the next four to ten years. I’ve been an advocate for accessibility and inclusion for years as my oldest son has Autism. We need to ensure our public services, building and transit plans have the ability to include the needs and accessibility of everyone, regardless of age or household income.

2. Climate change mitigation and reduction of environmental impacts are within my top concerns. We need to ensure the city is following the current carbon-reduction policy and actively searching out opportunities to do better. We need to protect our community and ensure new development is implemented with waste reduction, sustainability and green-innovation. We have a gem of a city and we need to protect it. We’re already having many challenges regarding city development, mitigating around prior toxic manufacturing. We need to ensure that any new industry does not create the same blight.

3. I would encourage actively searching out opportunities to purchase electric or hybrid vehicles and equipment, with transparency and public education on the purchase price plus the ROI (return on investment) as the tax payers want to see proper long-term thinking as well as accountability on city purchases. I would encourage installing EV charging stations at the Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, Libraries, Lift-Locks, etc. as this would not only help environmentally, but also help increase our foot traffic downtown, helping our small businesses and tourism sector recover from COVID-19 losses.

4. If/when I’m elected to city council, we’ll have 10 councilors and a new Mayor with various skills and personal passions. My hope is to have us collectively discuss each of our visions for the city and decide respectfully who will lead and/or assist within the city’s portfolios as per our stated visions and skill sets. If asked, I would be willing to assist with this portfolio. Also if available, I would like to be a part of the city’s emergency management and post-COVID recovery plans, as my post-secondary studies and previous employment experience focuses on risk management and business continuity.

Shauna Kingston, Northcrest Ward 5

1. Yes—because social and environmental justice are important to me. I’m invested in a future that is equitable and sustainable and by serving on city council, I can help make that happen locally. My priorities include decriminalizing poverty and homelessness; safe and efficient transit; affordable housing; safe shelters; and preserving green spaces. I believe that Peterborough should shift its focus away from gentrification and invest its energies in building an equitable and sustainable community.

2. Climate change is high on my list of priorities both personally and in terms of serving on council. The climate emergency spells out a very bleak future for today’s children and youth. There is no future without addressing climate change. As a parent of young children, I take that very seriously. It’s the council’s responsibility to do their part in ensuring that there is a future for our children to enjoy. No amount of short-term economic development can override the climate crisis and its consequences.

3. One of the most important things Peterborough can do to reduce emissions is to discourage car culture. I would support the city’s transition to electric vehicles and buses and I believe that accessible, safe, zero-emissions public transit is pivotal in reducing emissions. However, it needs to be cheap and efficient enough to make it a viable option for people’s hectic lives. A lot has been done to make Peterborough a walkable and cyclable city, but more needs to be done to reduce our dependence on cars. Urban sprawl presents a real challenge for social and environmental justice in Peterborough. It consumes large swaths of land that houses too few people, destroys biodiversity and creates isolated communities of commuters. We need to carefully design/redesign residential development to reduce urban sprawl and car traffic to ensure that our neighborhoods are places where people can live, work and socialize without dependence on cars to access the core components of their daily lives.

4. I would be willing to take responsibility for the city’s climate change portfolio. I’m eager to serve the city in any way that contributes to increased environmental and social justice in our community.

Eleanor Underwood, Otonabee Ward 1

1. If looking after the good of all citizens makes me a progressive then I am a progressive. I will work hard to ensure this is a better city for all.

2. Changing our habits to ensure a healthy climate should be a priority for everyone. This can be accomplished through education.

3. Planting trees and maintaining our green space is one of the most cost-effective ways to sequester carbon. Also, continuing and enhancing programs to make our homes more energy-efficient would reduce C02 emissions and also reduce the energy costs for homeowners. If the Arena and Aquatics Center to be built at Morrow Park is not stopped, then there will be limited funds to address climate change initiatives. Also, it must be noted that this Arena and Aquatics Center is going to cement over a large piece of green space which will make flooding in the area more problematic than it already is.

4. It should be council’s decision to appoint the most qualified person for the city’s Climate Change Portfolio.

Tricia Clarkson is a climate change columnist and co-chair for the Peterborough Alliance for Climate Action

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