The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment & Climate Change, addressed the delegation this morning. His words mirrored the thoughts and feelings of every local leader attending the conference. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about untold tragedy and posed grave challenges for every sector. As our country navigates this new world, we discovered that we could achieve a lot when we work together.

The path forward must include multi-faceted approaches that address health, economic, and climate crises. In our efforts to keep residents safe from the virus we cannot put them further at risk of the impacts of climate change. Canadian collaboration and innovation can deliver incredible solutions such as biodegradable masks, wastewater-based epidemiology, a four-day workweek, and more. The last day of the Sustainable Communities Conference dove headfirst into a profound discourse on charting a path forward.

The municipal leaders’ panel on “Building Back Greener” illustrated how municipalities have been addressing our climate, economic, and health crises by focusing on five key areas: redesigning how businesses work in a shutdown and after; integrating climate considerations into all levels of services and asset management; reviewing longstanding documents and data to better prioritize projects; investing in parks and trails as an essential service, and; promoting GHG emission reduction as a priority.

The following labs and workshops provided tangible avenues to support municipal efforts to accomplish many of these solutions. Delegates had the opportunity to learn about: using renewable gases to achieve decarbonization; accounting frameworks to manage GHG emissions; international research partnerships that support climate action planning; the Triple Bottom Line process to asset design; making your indoor ice rinks greener, and; acquiring financial support through the Green Municipal Fund (GMF).

To culminate FCM’s first-ever virtual Sustainable Communities Conference, delegates attended one last Resiliency Roundtable. The final roundtable provided delegates with the opportunity to talk about the immediate future. The moderators shared that “resilience-building is about developing the systems and infrastructure we need in order to cope with the unpredictable.” With that sentiment, the breakout groups discussed what tangible tools, resources, and strategies they gleaned from the last three days.

Throughout the Sustainable Communities Conference, local leaders had the chance to commiserate, celebrate, and share ideas with old and new connections from across the country. The team at FCM did an incredible job hosting yet another successful conference.

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