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My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga Part 6: Hurricane Hazel Goes Electric

There’s noticeable butterflies in my stomach. I haven’t been this nervous about meeting someone for quite some time, but then again, I haven’t met anyone as instantly recognizable as her since I ran into Rick Mercer back in my University days. I’m about to have a sit-down with the GTHA’s rock star, the indomitable Mayor Hazel McCallion. Sitting in the boardroom in City Hall, we sit down and discuss the City’s Let Your Green Show Campaign, O’Connor Park, the future of transit in Mississauga and The City’s environmental track record, which is about to take another turn for the better as they undertake a massive energy-saving retrofit (spending $33 million on replacing all of the City’s street lighting with energy-efficient LED lights). This will be a trend-setting move for Ontario municipalities, and will show other jurisdictions the kinds of cost savings that can be expected from such a significant move. This project is the first time in Mayor McCallion’s history of governance that Mississauga has had to borrow money for a project, but they anticipate that the energy savings will pay for themselves within a about 6 years, and will then save the City millions of dollars every year thereafter.

Of course, the conversation also turns towards Mayor McCallion’s personal leadership on the sustainability front. I’m surprised to find out that Canada’s longest serving Mayor was also the first Mayor in Canada to own an electric vehicle. She drives a Chevrolet Volt to and from City Hall every day, minimizing her own personal emissions and demonstrating active leadership with regards to personal transportation emissions. So I’m obviously excited to see her vehicle, so we head on down to the parking garage to check it out. As we walk down to the garage, Mayor McCallion makes sure to take the time to say hello to every single person we pass in the hallway. It seems to make working around City Hall quite a bit more pleasant, and makes me realize just how much impact a Mayor can have on the operations and attitudes around City Hall.

When we get down to the garage, Mayor McCallion talks to me a bit more in-depth about her Volt. She speaks of how she likes the comfort of the ride and the fact that it has good pick-up. She demonstrates how easy it is to plug the Volt into the charging unit that is installed beside her parking spot, which looks a little bit like a futuristic telephone. After showing me her car, it’s time for the Mayor to return to her busy schedule, so I bid her farewell, feeling incredibly fortunate having been able to sit down and discuss her city’s future and her own personal leadership efforts.

The charging station for the Mayor’s Volt. It looks a bit like a futuristic telephone booth!

Mayor McCallion demonstrates just how easy it is to plug in her Volt.

Ta-Da!

Mayor McCallion’s leadership on the electric vehicle front is carrying over to the municipal operations as well, which is demonstrated to me through a ride in the City’s Nissan Leaf. A fully electric vehicle, the Leaf is an impressive example of design and engineering. A highly informative Heads-Up-Display tells you how your driving patterns are affecting your mileage, growing a set of three trees indicating that your patterns are giving you optimal range. But when you need to drive outside the confines of “eco-mode”, the Leaf is really impressive. The acceleration is incredible, the handling tight, and the car is generally fun to drive. It’s perfect for municipal operations, and really has the opportunity to save municipalities money, especially as gas prices continue to climb.

Me driving an electric vehicle for the VERY FIRST TIME! I’ll bet you can’t tell that I’m excited about it or anything.

The Leaf from curbside. I was surprised at just how roomy it was inside.

As I reluctantly pull over to the curb and give the Leaf back to the municipal staff, I take a moment to watch it drive away, and reflect on what that little car represents. It represents a municipality ready to move aggressively forward on becoming more sustainable and to display leadership in the region. It’s exciting to see Mississauga heading down that road, and I know that the destination will be even more inspiring.

The Leaf as it drove away from me forever. *tear*

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  1. My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga Part 6: Hurricane Hazel Goes Electric | mississaugalivinggreen - January 16, 2013

    […] Reblogged from Clean Air Partnership […]

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