Environmental actions

Suburbs

For more than 25 years, we've been putting the environment first - developing, implementing and promoting sustainable methods to reduce our collective footprint and help preserve our planet.

Through our work, we've focused on seven key areas - our top priorities, as outlined in our Strategic Plan for the Environment.

1. Natural heritage system and recreational amenity areas

Our objective

To develop and maintain an ecologically diverse open space network that incorporates typical naturally occurring landscapes, significant natural features and the urban forest, all of which embody our valued natural heritage.

How are we doing?

With our city's Official Plan in place, which identifies all of the known provincially, regionally and locally significant components that comprise our natural heritage system, as well as our Parks Strategic Plan and Multi-use Pathway and Trails Master Plan, we're in a much better position to optimize the potential for our natural heritage system and recreational areas.

What's next?

With our main strategies in place, we are now focusing on our natural areas program, along with terrestrial naturalization and stream restoration projects. This includes monitoring, reporting and managing our natural areas.

Work continues on our natural lands acquisition policy and program, which is intended to protect our natural heritage system.

Other related initiatives:

2. Water resources

Our objective

To ensure the integrity and long-term sustainability of our surface watercourses and municipal water supply through the protection and enhancement of essential hydrological, hydro-geological and ecological functions using best management practices, conservation strategies and public education.

How are we doing?

Water is one of our most precious resources. We rely on water to live - and it's essential to the health of our natural ecosystems.

We, along with our partners, such as the Region of Waterloo and the Grand River Conservation Authority, have committed to ensuring our drinking water - as well as our local wetlands - are protected and replenished; our watercourses are improved; and our stormwater is managed properly.

Recent examples of our efforts include:

  • Construction and restoration of Schneider Creek through Filsinger Park,
  • Environmental assessments and designs for the enhancement or restoration of Idlewood and Balzer creeks
  • Construction and stream restoration at Kolb Creek
  • Restoration of Melitzer Creek
  • Home and business visits and community workshops offered through the RAIN stormwater education program

Other related initiatives

3. Air quality

Our objective

To improve air quality and minimize the associated risk to public health.

How are we doing?

Over the past decade, we have successfully implemented approximately 50 new initiatives to improve our local air quality - actions recommended to us through the Citizens' Report on Air Quality in Kitchener.

These initiatives, combined with related plans and policies, have allowed us to focus more effort and resources on getting people out of their cars and using green transportation choices, such as cycling and walking.

We've also achieved significant milestones of the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program for both corporate and community greenhouse gas reduction - huge steps on our path to reducing our carbon footprint.

Our progress on air-quality improvement is monitored through the Strategic Plan for the Environment annual report card.

What's next?

Moving forward, we will continue to execute recommendations of key plans and strategies related to improving local air quality, including our:

Other related initiatives

4. Land resource and growth management

Our objective

To develop and maintain a land-use planning process that allows us to coordinate and implement growth-related projects and policies in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

How are we doing?

Our growth management strategy and growth management plan continue to help us coordinate and track development across our city.

Most new development is now planned and built in areas well served by existing or planned transit. Over the past few years, many new mixed-use developments have been built within walking distance of public transit - including the ION network, our region's new light-rail transit system - and other amenities.

Our downtown/urban growth centre is also evolving, as we continue to exceed provincial targets for attracting new residents and businesses to our core.

What's next?

We will be shifting part of our focus to ensuring environmental and energy conservation is more prevalent in all new development; while continuing to work with the development community to find more infill/intensification/redevelopment opportunities in our city's established areas.

Other related initiatives

5. Energy systems

Our objective

To achieve continual reductions in per-capita energy consumption; and promote a sustainable energy-use lifestyle through public education, and the increased use of renewable energy sources and new technologies.

How are we doing?

To reach our community greenhouse-gas reduction target of six (6) per cent below 2010 levels by 2020, we continue to move on actions from the Climate Action Plan for Waterloo Region: Living Smarter in 2020 report. The first major Progress Report on this Plan was released in early 2017, revealing that our community has achieved a 5.2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2015. Over the past few years, our community has made progress on the following initiatives for reducing energy and emissions:

  • Community bike share systems
  • Electric vehicles and charging network
  • Corporate sector reduction commitments
  • Zero-impact sustainability incubator
  • Water efficiency target
  • Conservation and demand management initiatives
  • Solar roof at Kitchener Operations Facility

Other related initiatives

6. Resource consumption and waste management

To reduce resource consumption and pollution at our facilities and properties through the use of renewable resources; the implementation of effective monitoring programs; and the employment of efficient operating practices, including state-of-the-art waste management.

How are we doing?

While diverting any amount of potential waste through the green bin is positive, we all need to be doing more. The Region of Waterloo's residential curbside audits show one bag of garbage going to landfill is still made up of organics (53 per cent) that could have been composted, and paper/containers (14 per cent) that could have been recycled.

This year, the region enhanced several waste-management programs to maximize diversion, including bi-weekly garbage collection, and reducing and standardizing bag limits.

What's next?

We will continue to support the Region of Waterloo's waste management master plan, which identifies priorities, including:

7. Environmental education and public awareness

Our objective

To promote an environmentally healthy lifestyle through the development of strategies to increase environmental literacy; the implementation of effective monitoring programs; and the introduction of cooperative public outreach initiatives.

How are we doing?

Knowledge is critical. We are continually learning, developing new processes to educate ourselves, and creating environmental awareness within the community. Examples include our annual Earth Day commemoration, the Kitchener Natural Areas Program (KNAP).

What's next?

Find new ways to share information, educate the community and reach those who are not yet environmentally engaged.

Other related initiatives

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