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Orillia residents discuss how a sustainable future for the city can be built at workshop

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Sustainable Orillia concluded a series of three workshops at the Quality Inn and Conference Centre Sunday afternoon.

More than 40 community members gathered to discuss a sustainable future for Orillia, with the environment being one of the main talking points.

"There needs to be emphasis on infrastructure for what we call zero-emission transportation, which includes cycling and walking. So we need to get some balance in terms of our transportation system," says Sustainable Orillia President Stan Mathewson.

For the last five years, Mathewson has seen the importance of Sustainable Orillia hosting these workshops. They've become a first step for ideas from residents to grow into implementations by city council.

"We thought this year… it's time to reach out to the community and say okay. After five years, what do you guys want to do? Do you really understand what sustainability is and what is it in your view?" says Mathewson.

Other points discussed in this spring's series of workshops include:

  • Plans to support food production from local farms.
  • Incentivizing electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Ways to harness solar and wind energy.

Former City mayor Steve Clarke, who was in office when the community group first came together, is also on the Sustainable Orillia board.

"We've had growth numbers in the last six, seven, eight years that we have not seen before. So it's very important that the growth occurs in a fashion that maintains or even enhances the character of the city," says Clarke.

Sarah Patterson will become Sustainable Orillia's president next month. She wants to continue empowering her fellow residents.

"There's no shortage of caring people in this community. It's, I think, a lack of awareness and understanding around what they can do and how they can engage. This is really up to all of us, not the politicians, to fix," says Patterson.

Sustainable Orillia will release a public report with the full outcomes from their discussions in September and make deputations to council later in the fall.

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