Defining the ongoing role of the City
The Community Vision Survey emphasized the importance of the City’s role in successful implementation of community energy planning, with variations of the term “Leadership in Local Government” being the third most common theme in survey responses. The City will play several key roles with respect to Our Energy Guelph (OEG):
- Policy implementer. Community Energy Planning is only successful if it can be integrated into other municipal plans and policies, such as the Official Plan, water conservation plans, transit and transportation master plans, and waste management plans. This is emphasized by the Community Vision Survey, in which “Sustainability Planning” was the 5th most common theme in responses. OEG leaders will not necessarily be close enough to the internal workings of the municipality to achieve this integration. It will therefore be critical for a City-based body such as the Energy, Water and Climate Change (EWaCC) working group to have a close relationship with OEG. This will ensure that OEG is:
- Aware of policies and plans that have climate change implications
- Able to work collaboratively with the City to craft and revise these policies and plans to integrate energy and climate change considerations
- Financing channel. Some funding, particularly that offered by the provincial and federal governments, will only be available to municipalities. For example, only municipalities may apply for the Municipalities for Climate Innovation (MCIP) program offered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). The City will assist OEG with the application for such funding, will establish the appropriate legal framework (such as a Community Benefit Agreement) for disbursement of the funding, will channel the funds from the successful application from the City to OEG, and will participate in any status reporting and auditing that is specified by the funder. This may include programs which incentivize actions that support CEI objectives. Note that “Develop incentives” was a common theme in the responses to the Community Vision Survey.
- Advocacy partner. Non-profit organizations such as Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST), the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA), and the Clean Air Partnership (CAP) have achieved considerable success with policy changes at the provincial and federal level. Generally these organizations have evolved assuming the municipality itself is the representative of the community. The most practical way to address this fact may be to have the municipality continue as liaison between these organizations and OEG.
- Program implementer. In many cases, local non-profit entities or businesses will be fully capable of implementing aspects of the revised Community Energy Plan. However, there will be some functions that can only be performed by the municipality.
- Example: A partner can act as the delivery agent for LIC-financed energy efficiency retrofits (as Renovate America does with California’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, known as HERO). However, only the municipality can levy the LIC itself. The success of this program will be directly related to the degree to which the role of the municipality can be minimized to those LIC functions that only the municipality can perform.
- Example: A partner can act as financier, business developer, builder, and operator of a District Energy (DE) network. However, only the municipality can pass mandatory connection bylaws (assuming this is desirable, and is enabled by provincial legislation), and only the municipality can enhance the economics of a DE project by integrating the installation of DE piping into other subsurface infrastructure projects such as water and sewer renewal.
- Leader by example. The City has already had success with demonstrating leadership on energy corporately, through its Corporate Energy Management Plan. Current intentions to revise this plan to align with ISO50001 and to develop a pathway to net zero carbon (or similar low-carbon designation) show how this can continue into the future. Note that responses to the Community Vision Survey included “Make Investments” as the 6th most common theme.
- Organizational advisor. In its early days, OEG will be starting from scratch with such elements as communications and social media. The City can provide valuable guidance and oversight of such work where it has a direct equivalent in municipal government.
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