Laval, Quebec’s third largest city, has released a new climate plan that proposes nearly 400 municipal actions to reduce greenhouse gases — from increasing tree canopy cover to expanding cycling networks and transitioning some 300 city-owned buildings away from fossil fuels towards clean energy.
Climate Plan Horizon 2035 also includes nine directives and 60 measures that can be carried out by 2025 for the city of nearly 500,000 residents. The initiatives touch on transportation, water use, and implementing green infrastructure that can contribute to an anticipated reduction of 10,550 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Overall, Laval has pledged to reduce GHG emissions by 33% below their 1990 level by 2035.
“Barely a few years ago, our environmental decisions were carried out at arm’s length by our environment department,” announced Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer, in a statement translated from French. “The preparation of this new plan, however, demonstrates how much those times are over. The fight against the environmental crisis is now everyone’s business,” he added.
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Laval’s climate document is made up of two major plans: The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan and the Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The actions planned between now and 2025 under these plans represent an investment totaling $276 million. The GHG emissions reductions plan totals $181 million, while the city’s proposed climate change adaptation investments total $95 million.
The plans, developed with input from 23 people representing 14 organizations, are designed to offset the projected financial impacts of climate change. According to a study carried out on behalf of the Union of Quebec Municipalities in 2022, municipalities in Quebec will have to spend approximately $2 billion more per year until 2055 due to the chronic risks generated by climate change, such as extreme precipitation, temperature increases, and changing frost cycles.
The climate plan leans heavily on climate projections and established science around climate change to bolster Laval’s case for action. The report details data around urban heat islands, as well as data within climate agreements. The plan calls for others to “draw inspiration” from it and step up their own fight against climate change.
The plan recommends nine solutions to specific climate issues, such as protecting biodiversity through the use of green infrastructure, and encouraging the transition to green energy. The built environment of offices, buildings, houses and institutions account for about 22% of Laval’s GHG emissions.
Laval officials will also aim to increase waste recovery rates. In 2019, Laval had a 56% recovery rate for recycling and 49% for organics.
Other measures include potentially developing a shoreline restoration program and developing greater resilience against flooding.
Electrifying its municipal fleet will also be a priority for Laval as the transportation sector is responsible for 69% of the city’s GHG emissions.
More than 14,500 residential buildings still heat with oil in Laval. It is estimated that a dwelling heated with an oil system uses on average between 1,000 and 2,500 litres per year. This generates between three and seven tonnes of GHGs, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of one or two cars.
Laval will expand its subsidy program for the replacement of oil-fired heating systems and target the retirement of at least 7,500 systems.
In terms of water, Laval has joined a new program of excellence for water resource recovery stations, which consists of a structured approach aimed at achieving a high level of excellence in the operation of wastewater treatment plants. The City of Laval has registered its three stations: Fabreville, Auteuil and La Pinière, in the hope of reducing the environmental impact of these three stations using a global methodology for managing GHG emissions for water management, as well as the carbon-neutral recovery of municipal sludge, including the replacement of the sludge dryer and evaluation of the treatment process.
Highlights of the Laval Climate Plan
- $81 million for the conversion of fossil fuels to renewable energies in existing buildings and new municipal constructions (implementation of the eco-responsible policy for municipal buildings adopted in December 2022).
- $4 million for the subsidy for the electrical conversion of residential oil-fired heating systems.
- $44 million to encourage sustainable mobility (development of the cycling and pedestrian network, preferential measures for buses, car-sharing project, design of an integrated sustainable mobility plan).
- $6 million for the electrification of the municipal vehicle fleet.
- $23 million for a shoreline development project.
- $32 million for the acquisition and protection of natural environments.
- $9 million to plant trees and demineralize surfaces in order to combat urban heat islands and increase the canopy.
- $39 million to support the implementation of the Laval Residual Materials Management Strategy.