Mayor Farbridge wins national award for leadership in sustainability

GUELPH, ON, September 16, 2014 – Mayor Karen Farbridge has been named a member of Canada’s Clean50 for 2015 for leadership at a municipal level that makes city living more sustainable, and further as a member of Canada’s Clean16 for being the most outstanding honouree in the Clean50’s Cities category.

The awards are announced annually by Delta Management Group to recognize 50 people from 16 different categories who have “done the most to advance the cause of sustainability and clean capitalism in Canada over the past two years,” said Gavin Pitchford, Chief Talent Officer of Delta Management Group. This year’s honourees were selected from a pool of more than 550 candidates.

Mayor Farbridge will join 110 past and present Clean50 honourees in Toronto tomorrow to accept her award and participate in a summit on sustainability challenges.

“The 2015 Clean16 are truly the leaders of the leaders in sustainability in Canada,” said Pitchford. “To be selected from amongst such a strong group of peers is truly a testament to the contribution these individuals have made to helping make living well in Canada more sustainable for all Canadians.”

In announcing the award, Delta Management Group noted that, as Mayor of Guelph for 11 of the last 14 years, Mayor Farbridge has led the city in achieving a number of sustainability milestones, including achieving the highest residential waste diversion rate of any municipality in Ontario; protecting nearly a quarter of the city’s land from development through the Natural Heritage System; doubling bike lanes; and reducing per capita energy use and greenhouse gas emissions – all during a period of significant population growth. By integrating energy planning with economic development and growth planning, Guelph has become more sustainable while undergoing an economic revival at the same time, attracting jobs and investment from around the world. The award citation notes that Mayor Farbridge “is changing the way we think about what cities can do.”

“I am honoured to accept this award, and thrilled that Guelph is being recognized as a leader in Canada,” said Mayor Farbridge. “I have always believed that municipalities have the capacity to make a significant difference, and Guelph is proof positive of that. We cannot wait for other levels of government to take the lead.”

Mayor Farbridge noted that Guelph has established best practices in water, waste management, and growth planning largely through significant public participation and support. Because the energy system in Ontario is highly complex, involving many decision makers and stakeholders, the development and implementation of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative has involved unique challenges and required new approaches.

Recent successes include the development of district energy systems in downtown and the Hanlon Creek Business Park, and the addition of River Mill condominiums as the first residential district energy customer.

“I am often asked ‘how does Guelph do it?’” said Mayor Farbridge. “My answer is that we have taken an integrated, systems-based approach. Our energy initiative is integrated with our growth planning, our Official Plan, our secondary plans for downtown and the Guelph Innovation District, Guelph Wellbeing, and – importantly – our economic development strategy. As a result, Guelph is becoming not only more sustainable, but more liveable and more prosperous as well.”

Mayor Farbridge has championed this approach as Chair of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Community Energy; Chair of the Leadership Group for Guelph Wellbeing; Ambassador for the national group Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST); Founder and Chair of Guelph Sustainable Solutions; Chair of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc., and Vice-Chair of the provincial Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario.

More information about Canada’s Clean50, including the complete list of Canada’s Clean50 honourees for 2015, can be found at clean50.com.

For more information:
Mayor Karen Farbridge
City of Guelph
519-837-5643
mayor@guelph.ca