Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Muskoka’s ‘Gateway’ community is the first large local municipality to officially declare a climate emergency and to align its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals with the District of Muskoka’s targets.

Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) is calling it a significant event during Earth Week and ahead of Earth Day tomorrow, Thursday April 22.

They say in a release today that the town council at its April 20 meeting passed a resolution brought by Climate Action Muskoka (CAM), pledging to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent by 2030 with a goal of reaching zero by 2050.

“It’s the miniature, little needle-pushing that we do — our municipality, other municipalities, the province, federally that add up and make it a success,” said Councillor Steven Klinck, “And in the end, and hopefully as a nation, we reach these goals. If we fail, at least we failed trying.”

In her presentation, CAM co-founder Sue McKenzie stressed the urgency of taking action, noting that in 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave us just 11 years to take significant action to limit global heating before planetary tipping points are reached. This has now shrunk to 9 years. She urged Gravenhurst to join the over 10 000 cities and municipalities around the world which have adopted meaningful carbon emission reduction targets.

“We are ecstatic about this outcome,” McKenzie said in her release. “We only have praise for the forward-thinking Gravenhurst councillors who understand everyone must take action now to keep global heating below 1.5C. I am so proud to live in Gravenhurst.”

Councillor John Gordon, mover of the motion, noted that Earth Week is a great time for Gravenhurst to show its commitment to making the earth a liveable place for all future generations.

Councillor Sandy Cairns, who seconded the motion, stressed the importance of putting Gravenhurst on the map as a community moving forward on climate action.

Echoing her comments.

Councillor Jo Morphy liked the idea of showing climate impacts of town decisions on reports and councillor Penny Varney pointed out that many people in the community want to know what they can do to help.

Mayor Paul Kelly stressed the importance of collaboration among the municipalities, noting that area CAOs are already working on a plan to co-ordinate actions.

CAM plans to ask the other lower-tier municipal governments in Muskoka to pass the same resolution over the next few months. The Township of Georgian Bay declared a climate emergency in February, 2020, and has a climate action plan in place.

Town pledges to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent by 2030 with a goal of reaching zero by 2050 ahead of Earth Day tomorrow.


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Read the full resolution at Take individual action by signing on to CAM’s Community Carbon Challenge, also on the website.


You can watch the replay of the Council discussion at