The Government of Ontario announced a plan to fund climate-friendly and energy efficient improvements across several post-secondary institutions on Monday morning in the University of Guelph-Humber Atrium.
Minister’s Mitzie Hunter and Chris Ballard announced $214 in grants and making $300 million available in interest-free loans to retrofit facilities at university and college campuses via the Greenhouse Gas Campus Retrofit Program.
Guelph-Humber Vice Provost John Walsh, Humber College President Chris Whittaker and University of Guelph President Franco Vaccarino were all in attendence for the announcement event.
Any savings from the program by the University of Guelph are brought back into a “broader planning process”, according to Vaccarino.
A press release from Queen’s Park described three areas of funding: energy-efficient windows and boiler replacements, large retrofit projects for significant emission reductions or innovative approaches to increase campus sustainability, and projects that target reducing energy consumption, greenhouse emissions and operating costs.
Mr. Ballard, minister of environment and climate change, made an effort to appeal to students, saying the opposition had no plans in regards to tackling climate change, and that this plan directly impacts students.
The retrofit funding is part of the Liberal Party’s Climate Change Action Plan that aims to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 80 per cent for the year 2050.
“Ontario’s colleges and universities are some of the best places in the world to study,” Minister of Advanced Education Skills Development Mitzie Hunter, who just took on the post in recent weeks.
Hunter said the plan works “extend the life of valuable infrastructure and provide students with the best possible learning environment to pursue their goals and achieve their potential.”
“This investment is another example of how our Climate Change Action Plan and carbon market work together to help cut our greenhouse gas pollution while making life better for Ontario residents,” Ballard told gathered media, faculty and students.
“This program gives our colleges and universities an opportunity to modernize their campuses, increase the comfort of their students and inspire future generations to help build our low-carbon economy.”
Vaccarino said that the University of Guelph is “committed to improving life through environmental, economic and social sustainability.”
Analysis: Liberal’s vie for student votes
With a provincial election around the corner and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario deep in leadership woes, the ruling Liberal Party is looking gain favour in the growing millennial vote.
In the 2015 federal election, 45 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 25 voted in favour of the Liberal Party compared to 25 per cent for the New Democrats and 20 per cent for the Conservative Party — a voter trend that could carry over to voters in June.
“Despite accusations of apathy, young Canadians are deeply engaged politically,” Tiffany Gooch, a political strategist on the Liberal Party Executive Council, wrote in the Toronto Star in 2017 on the upcoming election.
However, studies show that young voters avoid coming into partisan politics, but instead choose to voice their own distinct views via student lobbying groups and other outlets, according to Gooch.
The Post is hosting another live panel, this time on how students could be affected by the upcoming provincial election. Those wishing to participate may contact the Post.
More details to follow. Image of the event from The Guelph-Humber Post.