Green grant helps Pickering ‘usher in a new era of sustainability’

Smog-laden Toronto has a reputation for its heart of green.

But for all the green roofs, subway lines and bike lanes, the Big Smoke might soon be out-greened by a smaller city in the GTA.

The City of Pickering is in the midst of an anomalous transformation that promises to make it one of the most environmentally-friendly cities in the province.

Pickering opened Ontario’s first Office of Sustainability to make the environment a key planning issue along with economic and social objectives.

The office works closely with other departments to implement a broad range of sustainability initiatives including the creation of a greenhouse gas reduction plan and development intensification studies.

The city – celebrating Sustainable Pickering Day on June 13 – is now bearing the first fruit of its green goals. Pickering just got its first site plan application for a Class A office tower that will be built to LEED Silver standards.

Construction on the 132,000 square foot building developed by 20 Vic Management Inc. is scheduled to start in July with occupancy slated for 2011.

The building’s primary tenant will be introduced this afternoon.

“(It will) help usher in a new era of sustainability and economic prosperity,” said Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan. “With the transformation of our downtown core; expansion of our EN3 (Energy, Environmental, Engineering) cluster . . . the (city) is evolving into one of the most significant business centres in the entire province.”

Pickering got its sustainable start with help from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The FCM gave the city $175,000 in funding from the Green Municipal Fund – a program to support and inspire environmentally friendly municipal projects.

Green Municipal Fund grants are available for community plans, feasibility studies, field tests and capital projects.

P-Town also used the funds to implement its Sustainable Neighbourhood Plan, which offers design standards for new housing developments.

Other cities, like Thunder Bay, are also using the investment fund to support their green building projects.

On May 27, the city secured $6.9 million in funding from the Green Municipal Fund for, among other projects, the construction of an energy and water efficient emergency services training facility.

“These projects would not have been possible without support from FCM’s Green Municipal Fund,” said Thunder Bay Mayor Linda Peterson.

“FCM’s Green Municipal Fund offers a range of resources and services that specifically address the sustainable community development needs of municipal governments,” said FCM director Linda Rydholm.

The Green Municipal Fund has already committed about $375 million to support 700 municipal projects. They estimate the grants have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.4 million tonnes.

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