EBR Application: Peterborough Sustainability Training and Community Empowerment Centre

To my regular readers: I’m posting this for archival purposes as part of my online portfolio. Feel free to ignore it.

To potential employers: This is an application I co-authored with environmental lawyer David McRobert. The parts written by myself are highlighted in red.

SUBJECT-MATTER OF REQUESTED REVIEW

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board is currently planning to close Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School, a popular high school in the heart of downtown Peterborough, and move its students to the suburban Thomas A. Stewart high school, which has sharply declining enrollment, as a way to consolidate resources. However, the school is an important part of Peterborough’s history, community, and economy, and many feel that closing it would do considerable harm to the city.

Thus, we, the Applicants, propose an alternative solution: the creation of a pilot project to partially convert PCVS into a Peterborough Sustainability Training and Community Empowerment Centre in conjunction with the local Trent University, Ministry of Natural Resources, Sir Sandford Fleming College and the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.

The training center would allow PCVS to continue functioning as a high school in some capacity, but would also provide numerous university courses on sustainability and other environmental studies. It would be a unique and vibrant learning environment that would preserve the school’s economic and historical importance while still being an efficient use of resources and expanding Trent’s capabilities as a university.

REASONS FOR REQUESTED REVIEW

The Applicants submit that the sustainability training center would be a boon for Peterborough and the area as a whole, and that closing would PCVS be a blow to the area, for the following reasons:

1. Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational is the oldest school in Peterborough and the second oldest high school in the province. Founded in 1827, PCVS has a rich and proud history that does not deserve this ignoble end.

2. Trent University already has one of the best environmental studies programs in the country. The addition of the PSTCEC would allow the ES program to improve even further and make Peterborough a true force for both environmental education and the development of new green technologies across Canada.

3. Trent would gain a downtown campus. Currently, students must go north of the city for nearly all classes, which is both wasteful and inconvenient.  Since most Trent students in their second, third and fourth years live off campus, we submit that these students would appreciate being able to take night classes a short walk from their residences.

4. Unemployment in Peterborough already hovers at roughly ten percent. The loss of the jobs offered by PCVS can only do further harm to the city, but converting the school into a sustainability training center has the potential to create new jobs and lessen the unemployment burden.

5. The loss of 900 students and faculty from the downtown would be a major loss for local businesses and do further damage to the local economy. 85% of businesses surveyed felt that the closure would have a negative effect on them.

6. Conversely, expanding PCVS to a sustainability training center would increase traffic in the downtown and provide more wealth and customers for local businesses, strengthening the city’s economy.

7. PCVS has had the highest average enrollment of any city schools over the past five years, with enrollment currently sitting at 90%. This is despite declining enrollment in numerous other high schools in the region.

8. The school sits within a vibrant downtown arts community, creating a unique and inspirational environment that cannot be duplicated at another school. On the other hand, the school can become an even livelier marketplace of ideas with the grounds also being used by Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College students.

9. PCVS is the only high school in downtown Peterborough and currently has the fewest number of bused students in the city. Moving its 750 students to a suburban school would increase travel time and bus use, which is an inconvenience for the students and their families, harmful to the environment, and a strain on local infrastructure.

10. The closure of PCVS is not likely to solve the issue of enrollment shortfalls, with projections stating that there will be over 1,000 empty spaces in local high schools by 2014, far too many for the closure of PCVS to compensate for.

11. Allowing the PCVS grounds to also be used as a campus by Trent University and SSFC at nights, as well as for continuing education courses offered by the school board is a win-win-win for all the parties.   The Peterborough Sustainability Training and Community Empowerment Centrecould make use of unoccupied classrooms during the day is a more efficient use of resources and allows the burden of keeping the school open to be spread between multiple parties. This should be compelling to all concerned in this time of budget constraint.  It also could be used on the weekends for Executive Sustainability training and conferences.

12. The focus on eco-friendly post-secondary courses would also create the infrastructure for potentially teaching sustainability courses to the high school students as well, creating new generations of eco-smart and environmentally aware youth.

13.  Staff working at the Ministry of Natural Resources might also be more inclined to provide guest lectures and participate in the work of the PSTCEC if it is located at PCVS.

14.  The new Sustainable Food program at Trent would benefit if students were able to interact directly with caterers and restaurant owners operating in city’s core.

15.  Establish the Peterborough region as Ontario’s premier area for healthy retirement by providing a well developed system of trail systems for biking, cross-country skiing, etc by encouraging collaboration between MCTR, MTO, MNR, other provincial ministries, county and local governments, First Nations, aboriginal organizations, cultural organizations and the federal government.

Description of Relevant Ministries, Acts, and Policies:

The primary laws, regulations, policies and instruments relevant to this submission for a pilot project to partially convert PCVS into a sustainability training center are administered by the following ministries:

Ministry of Natural Resources

the Ministry of the Environment

the Ministry of Government Services

the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

the Ministry of Energy

We request that this submission be directed to each of these ministries for official responses as required by Part IV of the EBR.

However related laws, regulations, policies and instruments administered by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities also need to be considered, and this could require prescription of these ministries and others (as listed below) under O. Reg. 73/94 of the Environmental Bill of Rights.

Thus we request that MOE review the need to prescribe several ministries, as indicated below, including the:

- the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation for reviews under Part IV of the EBR

Purposes:

1. We are seeking a review of the need for a new Act to establish a pilot project for a Peterborough Sustainability Training and Community Empowerment Centre (PSTCEC) at PCVS.  This project would partially convert PCVS into a sustainability training center in conjunction with the local Trent University, Ministry of Natural Resources, Sir Sandford Fleming College and the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.  We are proposing that this law would be enacted by MNR, with significant input from MGS, MOE, MMAH, and MCTR.  The first four of these ministries are prescribed for reviews under the EBR.

2. We request a review of the need to create a multi-stakeholder task group, funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources, MCTU and others to explore the details of the required legal changes and consult with affected stakeholders and the public.

3. Pursuant to Section 61 of the Environmental Bill of Rights, the Applicants request a review of the need for amendments to the primary regulation under the EBR to ensure that a number of ministries and agencies be prescribed for various purposes and provisions of the EBR including:

a.  preparation of Statements of Environmental Values under Part II; and

b.  Applications for Review under Part IV of the EBR.

These include:

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Ministry of Finance (MOF)

Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs

Ministry of Economic Development and Trade

Ontario Heritage Trust

For Applications for Review under Part IV of the EBR

Ministry of Education

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation

Ministry of Transportation

Ministry of Economic Development and Trade

Ministry of Labour

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) needs to be prescribed under O. Reg. 73/94 of the Environmental Bill of Rights because MOF oversees expenditures by all ministries and is ideally positioned to promote integration of environmental, social, cultural, scientific and economic factors in the work of all prescribed ministries in Ontario.  It also will play a crucial role in approving these types of future sustainability pilot projects.

The undersigned further contend that the creation of a PSTCEC at PCVS in conjunction with Trent University, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Sir Sandford Fleming College and the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board likely will require new approaches to financing mechanisms for these types of pilot projects.  It will be essential to review the need for revisions to existing policies, amendments to existing legislation, regulations and/or supporting technical guidelines for funding to school boards, universities, colleges and private sector providers of higher learning to provide for more effective implementation and service delivery.

Additional Acts to Prescribe

Additionally, parts of the Municipal Act, 2001 may have to be prescribed as being subject to the EBR.

Environmental Benefits:

The environmental benefits of this pilot project would include:

- reduced commuting by students, relieving the City of Peterborough of the need to operate and maintain a growing number of buses

- development of new environmental technologies for refillable and reuseable packaging, community composting, various other waste handling mechanisms

- promotion of green industries in southern Ontario

- development of leading edge executive training programs for ISO and other related environmental sustainability

- opportunities to promote cross-fertilization between agencies and deal with nagging structural unemployment in the Peterborough area

Background to the Application

In September of 2011, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board voted to close Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School, effective the end of the current school year. The stated reasoning was dropping attendance among various high schools in the Peterborough area as well as budget concerns, both of which caused the Board to view consolidation of schools to be a good option.

However, many feel the plan was enacted too hastily, and without taking into account all the facts. The Accommodation Review Committee appointed by the Board to find solutions to falling enrollment was shut down last spring before it could propose any other solutions or gather public opinions on the matter.

News of the closure triggered a massive backlash from students, faculty, and community members, who feel that PCVS is a remarkable school and a crucial part of the community. This led to the creation of the creation of the “Peterborough Needs PCVS” campaign, a large grassroots effort by former and current students and faculty members to prevent the closing of the school.

This campaign has held events such as charity concerts and auctions to raise money to fight the legal battle to keep the school open. These events were supported by famous PCVS alumni such as comedian Sean Cullen and Juno award winner Serena Ryder, and were even commented on by CBC personality Rick Mercer, who said, “The fact that these kids are trying to save the school obviously speaks volumes about how important the school is.”

As of yet, the Peterborough Needs PCVS campaign has not been successful in preventing the school’s closing, but their passion and determination should show how much the people of Peterborough value PCVS as an institution.

Why A Review is Required

Partially converting PCVS into a sustainability training center tied to Trent University allows the school to continue to be an important focal point of the community while also being an efficient use of resources. The university can make use of the campus for night classes, as well as during the day if and when attendance drops such that classrooms are sitting empty.

The pooled efforts of the school board, Trent, and the Ontario government would allow for the creation of a truly special educational setting without overly taxing any one party. The sustainability training center has the potential to be an advanced, top-notch educational facility, fully wired and equipped with the latest technology, but without the need for excessive wireless radiation due to its facilities being concentrated in a single location.

The Peterborough Sustainability Training and Community Empowerment Centrewould also create a vibrant and inspiring environment for both the high school and university students as they interact with each other and learn together. It has the potential to put Peterborough on the map as a major center of sustainability and environmentally conscious thought.

Finally, it would allow Peterborough to retain an essential part of its community and history while enhancing the sustainability .

In recognition of the remarkable contribution of the founding president of Trent, We would propose that the full name of the centre could be the Tom Symons Community and PSTCEC.

Information filed in Support of this Review

Attached to this submission are various documents for consideration by the various ministers in their deliberation on the scope of the proposed law.

D. McRobert, Review of Application R2004002: (Review Accepted), Prescribing the Ministry of Education under the EBR, Prepared by David McRobert while working as In-house Counsel at the ECO (2006).

Other Resources that are available on request:

D. McRobert and G. Ruby, “Law and Sustainability: The Canadian Case.”  Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (2008).  Geneva: UNESCO, United Nations.

D. McRobert (ed.), Green Industry Development and the 3Rs Sector in Ontario.  Report Prepared for the Waste Reduction Office, MOEE by Dianne Tsang et al., University of Toronto, May 1993.

D. McRobert, “Restructuring Ontario’s Economy: A Look at the Economic Implications of Shifting to Secondary Materials,” Alternatives, Jan-Feb. 1993.

D. McRobert, “Attitudes about Sustainable Development in Yukon,” In: P. Adams (ed.)  Student Research in Canada’s North.  Ottawa: Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies, 1988.

Appraisal Institute (US), Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum, guidelines for appraising green and energy efficient homes, 2011 http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/education/downloads/AI_82003_ReslGreenEnergyEffddendum

Allen, G.; Persram, S.; Kani, M.; and Lester, S., Assessment of North American Property-Attached and Other Financing Programs For Low-Rise Residential Energy Retrofits, Final Report Prepared for the City of Toronto, Toronto Environment Office, December 2010

Baser, Bob, Le Pan, Nick and Peters, Roger, Pay As You Save Loans (PAYSL): A call for leadership and good policy, 27 September 2010, Ecology Ottawa http://www.ecologyottawa.ca/publications/index.php?WEBYEP_DI=1

Reports and other resources:

Persram, Sonja, Property-Assessed Payments for Energy Retrofits: Recommendations for Regulatory Change and Optimal Program Features, David Suzuki Foundation, 2011. http://www.sustainable-alternatives.ca/PAPER_Persram_for_DSF.pdf

Persram, Sonja, Property-Assessed Payments for Energy Retrofits and Other Financing Options, David Suzuki Foundation, 2011. http://www.sustainable-alternatives.ca/PAPER_+_other_financing_options_-_Persram_for_DSF.pdf

Persram, Sonja, Strategic Recommendations for an Optimal PAPER Program, David Suzuki Foundation, 2011. http://www.sustainable-alternatives.ca/Strategic_recommendations_for_an_optimal_PAPER_program.pdf

Duffy, Robert and Fussell, Heather, This Green House: Building Fast Action for Climate Change and Green Jobs, Columbia Institute, May 2011. http://www.civicgovernance.ca/sites/default/files/publications/This%20Green%20House_Report.pdf

Fuller, Merrian, Enabling Investments in Energy Efficiency: A study of energy efficiency programs that reduce first-cost barriers in the residential sector, Energy & Resources Group,

UC Berkeley, prepared for California Institute for Energy and Environment, May 21, 2009 http://wpui.wisc.edu/files/webcontent/reports/Residential%20Financing%20White%20Paper.pdf

Home Performance Resource Center, Best Practices for Residential Energy Retrofit Program Design: Financing Incentives and Recommendations, March 2010 http://www.hprcenter.org/sites/default/files/ec_pro/hprcenter/best_practices_financing_and_incentives.pdf

LaScelles, Eric, (TD Securities’ Chief Canada Macro Strategist at time of writing), Canadian Mortgage Market Primer, June 17,

2010 http://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/td-economics-special-el0610-cdn-mort-market-di.pdf

Morrison Park Advisors, Tower Renewal Financing Options Report, May 2010, http://www.toronto.ca/city_manager/pdf/tr_financing_options_report.pdf

Natural Resources Defense Council, PACE Now, Renewable Funding, LLC and The Vote Solar Initiative, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs White Paper: helping achieve environmental sustainability and energy independence, improving homeowner cash flow and credit profile, protecting mortgage lenders, and creating jobs, May 2010, http://www.renewfund.com/resources/resources

Peters, Roger; Horne, Matt; and Heap, Nicholas, Using Local Improvement Charges to Finance Building Energy Efficiency Improvements: A Concept Report, Pembina Institute, May 1, 2004, http://www.pembina.org/pub/170

Peters, Roger; Whitmore, Johanne; and Horne, Matt: Using Local Improvement Charges to Finance Energy Efficiency Improvements: Applicability Across Canada, Pembina Institute, June 1, 2005 http://www.pembina.org/pub/197

Toronto Real Estate Board, Letter of Support Re: Property Attached Payments for Energy Retrofits (PAPER) Financing Program, March 25, 2011

U.S. Department of Energy, Guidelines for PACE Financing Programs, May 7, 2010:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wip/pdfs/arra_guidelines_for_pilot_pace_programs.pdf

Long Island Green Homes http://www.ligreenhomes.com

PACENOW http://www.pacenow.org

Appraisal Institute (US), Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum, guidelines for appraising green and energy efficient homes, 2011 http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/education/downloads/AI_82003_ReslGreenEnergyEffAddendum

Allen, G.; Persram, S.; Kani, M.; and Lester, S., Assessment of North American Property-Attached and Other Financing Programs For Low-Rise Residential Energy Retrofits, Final Report Prepared for the City of Toronto, Toronto Environment Office, December 2010

Baser, Bob, Le Pan, Nick and Peters, Roger, Pay As You Save Loans (PAYSL): A call for leadership and good policy, 27 September 2010, Ecology Ottawa http://www.ecologyottawa.ca/publications/index.php?WEBYEP_DI=1

Market and health-based research

Canadian Medical Association, No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution, 2008, http://www.cma.ca/index.php/ci_id/86830/la_id/1.htm

City of Toronto Home Energy Financing Survey, Ipsos Reid, 2010 (full disclosure: with assistance from Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc. for survey development and results analysis)

Ipsos Reid Public Affairs, Green Home Improvement Program Qualitative Research Final Report, February 2009 for Climate Change Central

Sandhu, Parminder and Willis, Paul (Willis Environmental Services Ltd.) and Wang, Kitty, Mims, Natalie, and Bell, Mathius (Rocky Mountain Institute), Opportunity Assessment of Strategies to Increase Private Sector Investment in Energy Efficiency, August 2009, prepared for BC Hydro http://www.mendeley.com/research/opportunity-assessment-strategies-increase-private-sector-investment-energy-efficiency-prepared-bc-hydro/

SES Research (Ottawa), Municipal Enviro-Loans for Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy Study, for the City of Ottawa, June 2007

Bibliography

ECO Special Report, Looking Forward: The Environmental Bill of Rights (March 1, 2005), page 2 [ECO Special Report].

ECO, Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the EBR and the ECO, 2004

ECO, The Last Line of Defence: A Review of Ontario’s New Protections for Species at Risk (February 2009).

EA Advisory Panel (Executive Group), Improving Environmental Assessment in Ontario: A Framework for Reform (March 2005), Volume I, page 90 [EA Advisory Panel Report].

Report of the Task Force on the Ontario EBR (July 1992), [EBR Task Force Report].

 

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