Map of Kitchener-Conestoga federal riding

Five Questions on Sustainability: Kitchener—Conestoga

Five Questions for Sustainability: Kitchener—Conestoga

Reep posed five questions on sustainability to each of the candidates in Waterloo Region. The responses for the candidates in the Kitchener—Conestoga riding are below.

Please see the original post Five Questions on Sustainability for information on the other ridings.

In this Riding
Owen Bradley (Green)
Owen Bradley headshot

We are at the beginning of a crucial decade for climate action. If elected, what meaningful actions will you take to combat the climate crisis?

I intend to engage with our government to both immediately pursue meaningful solutions that employ mature technologies available to us now and rapidly accelerate the research and development of the countless emerging technologies that show immense potential in the near future. Responsibly accelerating our progress towards not only being carbon neutral, but achieving meaningful progress towards a sustainable environment well into the future, must be respected as a global priority. Financial resources worldwide are severely strained at the moment. From a federal perspective, my immediate goal will be to inventory what solutions are ready now (like carbon capture and carbon mineralization), map out those that are nearly mature (various battery solutions come to mind) and, most importantly, find ways to solve multiple climate and environmental problems concurrently (like the carbon mineralization mentioned above) in order to ensure we do not spend wastefully as economies of scale improve and limit our ability to invest more in cost-effective solutions in the near future.

Achieving our community’s interim GHG reduction target of a 50% reduction by 2030 (based on 2010 levels), will require bold and immediate actions from the federal government. What specific federal policies/actions would you work to implement, to enable greenhouse gas emission reductions and help municipalities reach that target? 

Assuming we are only discussing matters that impact municipal governments, I see plenty of opportunities for direct investment to support the transition towards electrified vehicle fleets (perhaps via the Canada Infrastructure Bank) and purpose-driven investments in EV charging infrastructure that makes accessing market towns practical and connects rural communities in a manner that even short-range vehicles are practical for everyday use. I would also support direct subsidies to lower level governments to encourage the widespread use of construction materials incorporating sequestered carbon dioxide (as aggregate for asphalt and concrete production and curing, as well as calcium carbonate-based cement) until economies of scale naturally lead to competitive prices.

We know that home energy usage, especially heating, is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. If elected, how will you help people make their homes more sustainable?

We should encourage, through the CMHC, lower levels of government and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, incentivizing the construction of new planned communities with a shared geothermal network that can supplant the need for furnaces, hot water tanks and air conditioners. Retrofitting existing homes may be a challenge, but this is both simple and cost-effective at the time of new construction. I would not be against the retrofitting of established homes and communities once there is slack in the market, but it would be easier to build out this industry via new construction first.

Tackling climate change is going to require both preventing further change and adapting to the effects we are already feeling. If elected, how will you help provinces and municipalities prepare for the increased storms and heat waves of climate change?

Funding, planning and flexibility will be key. First, the Green Party has proposed mobilizing the Canada Infrastructure Bank to both support projects such as this and to do so in a manner that does not build in an expectation of or allowance for private profit. We will also need to train and deploy a wave of new modelers and researchers to help us identify, triage and plan around emerging shifts in weather and tidal patterns in order to direct our efforts to where they will be most impactful.

How will you help low-income Canadians move towards a low-impact, carbon neutral future?

Their contributions to climate change are minimal, but nonetheless meaningful. The Green Party has long encouraged the planning of communities of all kinds to be developed in a fashion that avoids waste through sensible design. The cost of living and environmental impact of all housing (social, co-operative and private) can be radically altered by making commuting without a personal vehicle a reality for many. Designing communities around self-propelled transportation would improve health, social cohesion, public safety, save money and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As discussed before, residential heating and cooling (if not power generation) can be easily achieved via geothermal heat exchangers, reducing the cost of living and eliminating avoidable greenhouse gas emissions. As nearly all parties promise to address our depleted inventory of affordable housing, we have never had a better opportunity to adopt modern design concepts and make healthier, cleaner and more affordable planned communities.

Narine Dat Sookram (NDP)
We are at the beginning of a crucial decade for climate action. If elected, what meaningful actions will you take to combat the climate crisis? As our region grows, it is important that we have a solid plan for how we move in and out of the region. This means modernizing and expanding public transit, buying Canadian made zero-emissions vehicles and encouraging folks to get out and walk or bike to work. Achieving our community’s interim GHG reduction target of a 50% reduction by 2030 (based on 2010 levels), will require bold and immediate actions from the federal government. What specific federal policies/actions would you work to implement, to enable greenhouse gas emission reductions and help municipalities reach that target?  The first thing we need to do is to end fossil fuel subsidies for large oil companies with a target on big polluters and setting real , achievable climate targets. Working with municipalities to achieve net zero emissions on all regional vehicles, creating green jobs in our economic recovery. Encouraging builders to create and maintain green spaces with all new builds. We know that home energy usage, especially heating, is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. If elected, how will you help people make their homes more sustainable? The NDP has a plan to help families make energy efficient improvements to their homes with low interest loans, saving folks over $900/yr in energy costs. Supports for low-income and rental households would also be available. Helping to create new jobs centred around conservation efforts by planting trees, expanding green spaces and restoring our wetlands. Tackling climate change is going to require both preventing further change and adapting to the effects we are already feeling. If elected, how will you help provinces and municipalities prepare for the increased storms and heat waves of climate change? By making sure municipalities have the resources needed to cope safely with extreme weather events. By creating the National Crisis Strategy, long term funding would be made available for adaptation, disaster mitigation and climate resilient infrastructure. We will ensure that by 2025, all new builds will be net-zero. This is also the core of our national housing strategy. How will you help low-income Canadians move towards a low-impact, carbon neutral future? We will provide low-interest loans for improving energy efficiency in homes to low-income households and renters too. We must keep those in construction, the trades, engineering and others front and centre in our climate action plan. We have a plan to create over 1 million good jobs in all communities which will include building green infrastructure, requiring Canadian made steel, aluminum, cement and wood products to be used. See our entire action plan at ndp.ca/climate-action
Tim Louis (Liberal)
Tim Louis Headshot

We are at the beginning of a crucial decade for climate action. If elected, what meaningful actions will you take to combat the climate crisis?

The Liberal Government will continue to protect our environment and address the devastating effects of the climate crisis. I am personally committed to keep pushing for more aggressive climate action, and meaningful progress on existing commitments, including ensuring that nature-based and agricultural solutions are central to Canada’s collective effort to reach net-zero emissions before 2050, banning single-use plastics and planting two billion trees over the next decade.

We will continue to set ambitious targets while growing our economy. The government is taking action to achieve this goal, including the introduction of Just Transition Legislation, launching a Clean Jobs Training Centre to help workers upgrade or gain new skills to succeed in the net-zero future, requiring all plastic packaging to be 50% recycled plastic by 2030, and creating thousands of new jobs in the clean economy.

I will continue to meet with and advocate for local companies to promote and fund clean technology projects. I will ensure their voices and feedback about these programs are heard in Ottawa so we can work together for a greener future in Kitchener Conestoga.

Achieving our community’s interim GHG reduction target of a 50% reduction by 2030 (based on 2010 levels), will require bold and immediate actions from the federal government. What specific federal policies/actions would you work to implement, to enable greenhouse gas emission reductions and help municipalities reach that target?

We have made sure that polluting is no longer free anywhere in Canada and increased our climate targets. We will meet these targets by creating a net-zero electricity grid by 2035, developing additional investment tax credits for clean energy, and creating a Pan-Canadian Grid Council, in partnership with the provinces and territories, to make Canada the most reliable, cost-effective and carbon-free electricity producer in the world.

Building on the serious actions already taken to address plastics pollution, a re-elected Liberal Government will take the burden of recycling off municipalities by making producers of plastic waste responsible for collecting and recycling it, in collaboration with provinces and territories.

This builds on the investment of $2.75 billion starting this year to enhance public transit systems and switch them to cleaner electrical power, including supporting the purchase of zero-emission public transit and school buses.

This funding is part of an eight year, $14.9 billion public transit investment recently outlined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and will also support municipalities, transit authorities and school boards with transition planning, increase ambition on the electrification of transit systems, and deliver on the government’s commitment to help purchase 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years.

I have worked personally with our municipal governments and local environmental leaders over the past 2 years and I will continue to do so to make sure that they have all of the support they need to achieve these ambitious but necessary goals.

We know that home energy usage, especially heating, is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. If elected, how will you help people make their homes more sustainable?

I’ve heard from homeowners around Kitchener-Conestoga who voice interest in affordable programs to help them make their homes sustainable. The Liberal government will create jobs in our communities, make the air in our community cleaner, and help Canadians save on their energy bills.

We will do this by helping Canadians upgrade their homes and save on energy costs, with retrofit grants of up to $5,000, interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for deeper retrofits, and additional supports for Canadians to transition off home heating oil.

We will also launch a national strategy to chart a path to net-zero emissions from buildings by 2050, with ambitious milestones along the way.

Further, we will work with the oil and gas sector to make sure that emissions are reduced from current levels at a pace and scale needed to achieve net-zero by 2050, with ambitious 5-year targets starting in 2025. Further, we will require oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions by at least 75% below 2012 levels by 2030.

These actions, taken alongside other commitments to make it easier and more affordable to own a zero-emission vehicle and by continuing to invest in charging stations across the Region, including our townships of Wilmot, Wellesley, and Woolwich. This builds on the recent $230,000 investment for Waterloo Region municipalities to install 46 electric vehicle (EV) chargers across the region.

Tackling climate change is going to require both preventing further change and adapting to the effects we are already feeling. If elected, how will you help provinces and municipalities prepare for the increased storms and heat waves of climate change?

Preparing for more regular extreme weather events like wildfires, droughts and flooding requires united partnerships with the provinces and municipalities to ensure Canadians are supported.

We will invest to train at least 1,000 firefighters in targeted wildfire risk manageable strategies in communities across Canada. We will also invest $450 million to allow provinces and territories to invest in the required equipment to keep firefighters safe.
Locally, our townships are impacted by flooding and are concerned about protecting and restoring wetlands. We will provide a $1.4 billion top up to the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund and support provincial and territorial disaster response and recovery efforts with $1.9 billion over five years.

Part of our disaster mitigation and response will include working with provinces and territories to complete flood maps for higher-risk areas, improve standards in areas like flood mapping, and support increased mapping of areas in Northern Canada at risk of wildfires;

Finally, we will increase total AgriRecovery funding to up to $500 million to address extraordinary costs faced by producers due to drought and wildfires.

How will you help low-income Canadians move towards a low-impact, carbon neutral future?

At the doors, one of the top issues that comes up is climate change. I understand that taking serious action to fight the climate crisis at the household level can be expensive, and can be out of reach for low-income Canadians.

In addition to the above-noted retrofit grants for homeowners, we will accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-based heating systems to electrification through incentives and standards, including investing $250 million to help low-income Canadians get off home-heating oil and by pushing to keep the energy costs as low as possible.

By creating new jobs and programs to help Canadians retrain and upskill in order to succeed in the future net-zero economy, this will also create new opportunities to get quality, high-paying jobs and help them join the middle-class.

Canadians need a stronger environmental protection law that confronts 21st-century dangers with 21st-century science. All Canadians should be able to live their lives free from the effects of harmful chemicals and pollutants.

We know that some communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental burdens, such as exposure to toxins. No community should have to experience these effects more than any other. These long overdue updates to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act will enshrine this important principle into law, will ensure that vulnerable populations, including low-income Canadians, no longer face this kind of injustice, and will continue to protect human health and the environment.

Note: Carlene Hawley (Conservative) did not respond to Reep’s email survey.