Energy aspects of the reports of the Smart Growth Panels

An early draft of this paper was prepared as part of the work done by the Neptis Foundation for the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel, formed to advise the Ontario government as to its forthcoming Smart Growth Strategy. Energy concerns are featured in the last of the Panel's 44 final recommendations: "Energy efficiency and district energy should be priorities in planning, both in subdivision design and built form, and incorporated in the planning process." The Panel's final report indicates that this should occur "to manage demand for energy and maintain our lifestyle in the face of declining supplies of traditional energy sources".52

As well, the Panel recommended action on its interim advice of November 2002, which proposed establishment of a "green development program". This program could include a voluntary rating system under which credits could be given for "sustainable community and site design ... energy efficiency and alternative energy sources ... . The program participants would be rewarded with the promotional benefits of having achieved green development credits".

Implementation, according to the Panel's final report, should include consideration of road pricing to "encourage energy conservation, transit use, and compact form".

Achieving more compact settlement form was the first of the Panel's "strategic directions", primarily to make transit more attractive and cost effective, to protect agricultural and other land, and to build livable vibrant communities. The text of the final report suggests that "Communities should be built so that walking and cycling to destinations is a viable alternative to taking the car". The text also proposes use of alternative energies as a response to declining supplies of traditional energy sources, with appropriate provision in the planning process.

The Central Ontario Panel's final report does not highlight energy issues as requiring further research and analysis before development of the provincial Smart Growth Strategy.

Two more of the five Smart Growth panels had released their final reports by July 2003, the Northwestern Panel and the Northeastern Panel.53 A key concern in these two reports is that of ensuring the availability of reliable, affordable, and stable supplies of energy. The report of the Northeastern Panel also spoke to pursuing "the widest variety of opportunities to maximize the sustainable value of our natural resources". Examples include "... capturing renewable energy ...".

52. The April 2003 final report of the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel, Shape the Future, is available at the URL below. Accessed July 22, 2003.
53. These two reports are available at the URL in Footnote 52.