About the Post

Author Information

The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

My Sustainable Day-Cation in Halton Hills Part 5: Leadership at Every Level

When writing this blog, the focus is almost always on finished projects and highly visible actions. I’ve always felt that these projects are a great thing to highlight, but sometimes I feel that this blog runs the risk of ignoring all the hard work that goes in to making these projects happen. In truth, every municipality in the GTHA employs some fantastic, creative and highly motivated people, and it’s been my privilege to meet and work with many of them as I take you on a journey around the region. These staff members work very hard to try and achieve significant changes in the ways their municipalities operate to make the residents of the GTHA happier, healthier and on the path to a more sustainable life. In Halton Hills, the leadership at the staff, council and community level impressed me so much that I just had to write about it.

I should preface this article by saying that in every municipality I’ve visited, I’ve been blown away by how dedicated and hard-working the municipal staff is. So for all the staff in Pickering, Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga, I want to say a big THANK YOU for all your hard work, and know that it is appreciated.

In Halton Hills, sustainability is really becoming a way of life in every aspect of the municipal operations. The Mayor of Halton Hills, Rick Bonnette, has been a tremendous voice for sustainability within the community, and it has dramatically impacted the way that all operations take place. There’s all sorts of little changes that you can see taking place around the offices that tell you how serious the municipality takes its pledge to become more sustainable. One of my favorite little changes around Halton Hills is their Green meeting and event policy.

In 2011, Town Staff realized that hosting meetings in unnecessarily large rooms, using plastic name tags, distributing large amounts of paper and leaving behind food waste and plastic utensils didn’t set a very good example. So, in order to display leadership and show their residents that they are serious about tackling environmental issues, the Town drafted a Green Meeting and Event Policy. This policy focuses staff’s attention on every aspect of the meeting, from the size of the room to the source of the food to the electronic distribution of background documents to asking if the meeting even needs to be held at all, or if it would suffice to hold the meeting electronically. While it not sound like much, when you consider the number of meetings that take place in a typical municipality, these impacts can be significant, so undertaking a policy like this can actually affect some major changes to a municipality’s energy use, paper use and waste production.

Town staff support the Halton Fresh Food Box that supports local agriculture within Halton Region

But staff members don’t stop there. As I was preparing to leave Town Hall, a large green hybrid delivery truck pulled up. “Oh, the food boxes are here!” exclaimed one of my tour guides. I was a bit confused, but they explained to me that several staff members subscribe to the Halton Fresh Food Box program, which helps to promote sustainability, education and awareness of the the importance of local access to food. It’s actions like this that show a dedication to sustainability that goes beyond the workplace and into the home, into the personal lives of the staff, which is where I think that the true leadership can often be found.

A small raised bed outside Halton Hills’ Town Hall, where produce is grown for the local food bank.

Staff members also put in time tending a series of raised beds outside of Town Hall growing produce, all of which is donated to the local food bank. This kind of action, to me, epitomizes what makes our region great. Municipal staff are doing things that often fall outside of what they are expected to do as part of their job, but they do it because they believe in a better future for the GTHA. They believe that we can live more sustainably, that we can enjoy our communities more, and that we can all prosper together as we move down that path. I’m honoured to have been able to work with so many of them, because it has given me that same sense of optimism.

So that’s all from Halton Hills, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the posts as much as I enjoyed writing them! Be sure to check back soon for the stories from my trip to the GTHA’s newest City, Markham!

Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: