The S Word

People seem to use the word ‘sustainability’ a lot these days. I think some people use it, but don’t actually know what it means. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it means “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” as well as “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.”. Here’s what wikipedia had to say “In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.” Let’s look at sustainability in the context of one particular project that’s happening right now in North Grenville.

I think it’s a great word and important concept, but there’s one organization that really seems to like that word and it’s called The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). FCM is a national organization that claims to be the national voice of municipalities and represents 90% of Canada’s municipal population. They seem to have a serious commitment to rewarding or acknowledging communities across Canada that show leadership in sustainability and environmental responsibility.

FCM has categories of national awards including Sustainable Communities Awards and Green Champions Awards among others. Specifically, the Green Champions Awards were developed to promote and reward municipal champions, inspire municipal governments, and showcase and encourage the exchange of best practices among Canadian communities. Awards are presented in six categories —planning, energy, transportation, waste, water and brownfields — and are open to all municipal governments. Winning communities and projects are recognized through case studies, videos and news releases, generating national and local media attention.

There’s a very unique project that you may have never heard about that’s happening in Burritts Rapids and it would be an excellent choice to submit for the energy category of the Green Champions Awards. The Burritts Rapids Renewable Energy Association (BRREA) is a community organization that is exploring the possibility of using the fast flowing waters of the Rideau River at the dam site in Burritts Rapids to generate hydro power. The idea is that whatever power is generated by the project would be sold to the Ontario Power Authority and that money would be used for the benefit of the Burritts Rapids community including ‘possible significant capital projects’. Sounds like this has ‘sustainability’ written all over it. According to BRREA , there are several objectives, the most interesting of which is “to move towards our village having the potential to be energy self-sufficient.” That definitely sounds like the type of sustainability that these awards were made for. The project has a very big challenge though and that’s to secure the necessary funding to obtain a permit from Parks Canada to allow the Burritts Rapids Renewable Energy Association (BRREA) to install a small hydroelectricity generator at the dam site, to identify and buy the most suitable generator, get a FIT (Feed In Tariff) agreement, get a federal environmental assessment done, develop a business plan for the project and then find investors for the project (as of BRREA’s annual general meeting in March, it sounds like there are some developers that are currently interested). Finding serious investors and getting government co-operation would probably be much easier with the type of national media exposure that could come from winning one of these Green Champions Awards.

FCM even has a Green Municipal Fund available that grants out and loans money for these types of projects. They also can provide knowledge services and peer networks to allow one municipality to work with another that may have already worked on a similar project.

The fund and the award sound like they were tailor made for the BRREA project. This could be an incredible opportunity not only for Burritts Rapids and BRREA, but it could also reflect very positively on the municipality of North Grenville, if they did more than just show token support of the project. It would be great to see leadership from someone on council to promote this project and convince the rest of council to direct municipal staff to help BRREA pursue these opportunities. The municipality could help BRREA apply to the Green Municipal Fund for the funding, so this amazing project could come to life. The municipality could also nominate BRREA and the project for a Green Champions Award. Imagine the ‘possible significant capital projects’ that could be built in Burritts Rapids without the municipality having to pay for them. As well, the community pride created in Burritts Rapids would be tremendous and maybe encourage some of the other communities in North Grenville to come up with their own unique projects.

This sounds like an excellent investment for the municipality to make in promoting the type of sustainability initiatives that could be one of the keys to a bright future. If this scenario actually happened, it would send a very clear message that North Grenville is committed to making our municipality a leader in Eastern Ontario and even Canada when it comes to sustainability and innovation. Who knows, we may even start to live up to our claim of being “Green And Growing”.

To learn more about this incredible project in Burritts Rapids, go to

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