Energy Planning for Sustainable Communities: Sustainable Pickering’s Journey
Energy is essential to the quality of life that citizens have come to expect but it has come at a price. Increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have contributed to climate change – altering weather patterns and rendering communities vulnerable to more intense storms and climatic conditions – and degrading air quality – increasing smog and air pollution leading to increased respiratory illness and affecting the health of millions. Clearly the way we power our communities needs to be rethought. Environmentalists agree that municipalities, citizens, planners and business (including utilities) need to work together as the challenge is too large for any one sector to undertake on its own. Sustainable community energy planning (CEP) seeks alternatives to our current energy paradigm – replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy (including solar and wind) and considering different generating and distribution systems. Innovative technologies exist and working models demonstrate alternatives (such as district energy, waste to energy and ecoindustrial parks). Municipalities will need to identify opportunities and create partnerships to implement SCEP. Yet while many communities are planning to become more sustainable and have created action plans and targets few have implemented them. Planners, as stewards of cities and experts in understanding sustainability and its importance to communities, can act as facilitators enabling this transition through the planning process by using their tools (zoning, by-laws, density controls and building and infrastructure design) and by helping municipalities to collaborate with business. In a carbon-constrained future, business will also need to rethink their business models to become more carbon efficient and be willing to be active partners in achieving more sustainable communities. The City of Pickering embarked on their sustainability journey in 2005, has laid a solid foundation for creating a sustainable community and is now considering how to implement their Local Action Plan. Using Pickering as a case study, this paper considers three questions regarding using CEP in creating sustainable communities: what are the opportunities and constraints, what can we learn from Pickering’s sustainability journey, and lastly what needs to be done towards achieving our goal of using CEP to create sustainable communities?