PONTIAC – After a quiet start to her first mandate as Member of Parliament for the Pontiac federal riding, Sophie Chatel announced the launch of her strategic plan “For a Green and Prosperous Pontiac” on November 22.
“Although Canadians recognize climate change as a threat, fewer communities are prepared for the transition to a low-carbon future … This initiative aims to develop an integrated and collective action plan to address the challenge of our time. In particular, it advocates that local stakeholders develop a coordinated strategy to tackle the simultaneous challenges of climate change, pandemic recovery and the 2050 net-zero goal,” says the plan.
Chatel believes an inclusive framework is needed for the riding due to its demographics and nature of its businesses. “Pontiac features many marginalized communities, two indigenous communities, an aging population, many economic sectors tied to the intensive use of fossil fuels, and a disproportionate number of citizens living near the poverty line. Without a concrete plan to offset the high upfront costs of decarbonization, or a coherent policy strategy to adapt local businesses and institutions, climate policies risk amplifying existing disparities,” she said.
The initiative involves a three-step process. First, riding-wide consultations with key regional stakeholders about the risks and opportunities of climate change and the 2050 net zero goal. Next, working groups will turn discussions into proposals.
“Many innovative projects already exist in Quebec and across the world stage. The working groups could identify which projects
particularly fit the milieu of Pontiac, and how they could best be adapted to local realities,” says the plan.
Third, a riding-wide “green paper” will be produced. “This document could synthesize the insights gleaned from the working groups in order to create a practical tool kit to empower local leaders to develop an integrated strategy to put their communities on a pathway towards net zero, while also seizing opportunities for growth,” the plan explains.
The consultation process is expected to begin sometime in December, or January at the latest, said Chatel’s office.
Chatel outlined eight key risks that she believes the plan will allow local leaders to develop more integrated plans to deal with:
• Decarbonizing local businesses (allow entrepreneurs to innovate, tap investment capital, and recruit skilled workers to retool their businesses);
• Affordable housing (which will allow businesses to attract workers, expand or revamp);
• Reconciliation (linking reconciliation and decarbonization, addressing barriers);
• Supply chain disruption;
• Food insecurity (an industrial food production system based on limited arable land and freshwater
is vulnerable to climate shocks);
• Insufficient capacity (regulatory mandates may increase the burden on small communities and, without more financial resources or capacity, they may have difficulty implementing innovative policies);
• Access to funding (difficulties accessing green transition funding because the programs lack transparency, or the process of applying is too onerous and complex);
• And populist backlash (without consultation and retraining programs, environmental policies could
suffer a populist backlash).
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There’s already an abundance of innovative ideas, programs and policies. One rationale for creating a strategic framework is to bring our best practices and intentions
into focus. It can provide a road map to illuminate our priorities, synchronize our investments and pool
our resources for mutual benefit,” said Chatel.
“The goal of this initiative is to mobilize stakeholders and empower communities to better mitigate risk, seize opportunities for growth, effectively tap provincial and federal financing and collaborate across jurisdictions … While the challenges are great, if we work together and pool our strengths, we can reshape our economy
to build a prosperous
Pontiac for our children,” she concluded.