In the same meeting where members of Hamilton’s GIC Committee learned that the cost of the Red Hill inquiry will reach $26 Million and there is nothing they can do about it, and where they also learned there is a $26 million budget shortfall heading into 2023, Hamilton councillors spent roughly six hours debating a measure to spend $215.000 to set up a climate change secretariat in Hamilton.
There were more than a dozen written submissions and 18 video presentations made as councillors discussed the Hamilton Climate Action Strategy. At the end of the marathon session councillors voted to approve the creation a Climate Change Advisory Committee of Council for the next Council Term, the establishment of a Climate Change Office within the Planning and Economic Development Department and the creation of the staff position, Director of Climate Change Initiatives position at a cost of $215,000.
Accompanying the staff recommendations were four appendices totaling over 400 pages. The reports acknowledge that industrial emissions make up more than half of Hamilton’s carbon footprint. ( Arcelor Mittal has already launched a decarbonization strategy that will see the phase out of coal in steel production.) Other measures recommended involve reducing emissions from transportation, improving energy efficiency of buildings, which includes housing, as well as other measures. To achieve the housing energy savings, the report suggests that by 2050, only 20 percent of housing will be single-family.
One document noted that the goal of setting a net-zero scenario for the city, (excluding the steel and marine sector and and the expansion of active transportation infrastructure), would cost Hamilton taxpayers $367 million/year of investment which works out to roughly a third of the city’s current operating budget, . Even with this massive expenditure it will, as the report says, only provide a marginally net-positive return for the community of $1 per tonne of GHG reduced, or $63 million dollars, over the life of the investments. As to finding funding for the mitigation measures the report is vague, saying, “ will not be the sole responsibility of the City, but rather will be shared across the community and various levels of government in a manner that has yet to be determined. For example, a mass home energy retrofit program is contingent on the investment of homeowners to improve the efficiency of their homes; however, it is assumed that there will be low-interest financing and grants available from various levels of government to improve the business case and return on investment, while also reducing the burden of the large up-front capital cost on the homeowner.”