Should Peterborough Reinstate its Environmental Advisory Committee?

One idea put forward at Electric City’s first All Citizens Meeting in May was that Peterborough should establish an advisory committee made up of local citizens to help shape the city’s environmental policy, and to guide City staff and Council on how to manage Peterborough’s green spaces and natural heritage sites.

Peterborough used to have just such a committee—it was called the Natural Areas Advisory Committee. “It is recognized that environmental issues are becoming increasingly intertwined with the local development approvals process,” City staff wrote in 2000. So, the City decided to establish a committee “to provide qualified, community based insight into the value of natural areas of local significance that may be part of development proposals.”

The Natural Areas Advisory Committee was formed in 2001, but City Council discontinued it after only a couple of years, despite input from City staff praising the value of the committee.

Now, some advocates for environmental stewardship in Peterborough are saying the committee—or something like it—should be reinstated.

“Environmental advisory committees are a common way of bringing diverse environmental expertise into planning, parks and other municipal decision making,” says Ian Attridge of Reimagine Peterborough, adding that municipalities like the City of Kawartha Lakes, Oakville, Cobourg, and Orillia all have environmental advisory committees. Attridge, who served on the Natural Areas Advisory Committee during its brief existence, brought the idea forward at the All Citizens Meeting.

Jeffrey Humble, Peterborough’s Director of Planning and Development, says that to his knowledge the City isn’t currently considering re-establishing the committee or anything like it.

Humble says the city is guided by the Planning Act, Official Plan, and Zoning By-Laws, which include review by the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority. He also adds that the city has recently established a more general Planning Advisory Committee, though this committee is not focussed specifically on environmental issues.


Cover photo by B Mroz.

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Will Pearson

Will Pearson

Will Pearson is a freelance journalist based in Peterborough, Ontario. He has written for a variety of local and national publications, and he is the host of the Peterborough Currents podcast.