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Eden Mills proposes to go carbon neutral:
A Canada First

The New Tanner, October 11, 2007
By Rebecca Ring

Eden Mills is aiming to become North America’s first carbon neutral community. The plan is in response to the growing problem of climate change, or global warming, in which carbon dioxide plays a major role. The village plans to emit no more of the gas then it absorbs. It was inspired by the village of Ashton Hayes in England, which implemented its plan to go carbon neutral last year.

How will Eden Mills accomplish this ground-breaking feat? The project, spearheaded by the Eden Mills Millpond Conservation Association Inc., will involve the entire community, with a focus on education, communication, measuring results, and good, clean fun. To begin, participating households will have their individual carbon footprint measured in a baseline survey by University of Guelph students early next year. Then, with carefully targeted research, effective and simple ways to reduce household carbon production will be laid out for all residents along with long-term projects to benefit the entire village. To continue, the footprint will be re-evaluated every year. Organizers expect participants will reduce energy costs as well as carbon emissions as they result primarily from energy use.

The little village with the big plan caught the attention of CBC Radio. Charles Simon, resident organizer and one of Canada’s pioneering green architects, was interviewed by Shelagh Rogers on Sounds Like Canada last Tuesday. They commented on the unseasonably warm weather this Thanksgiving weekend, with Simon saying it was absurd to see people swimming in the millpond this late into autumn. Rogers mentioned the power outages Toronto experienced due to air conditioning demands. “Our plan is important to create awareness about global warming. It is an acute and serious problem. We are very concerned about the future, and the futures of our children and grandchildren, because of the potentially disastrous effects. We must tackle this single, most serious problem,” said Simon, “Eden Mills is a community that works together. When we see a need, we do something about it.” He added that nobody will be pestered, there will be no finger pointing or “carbon cops.” They will lead by example, which is how the village of Ashton Hayes has been so successful.

Simon outlined the plan as having three broad categories: first is to reduce the amount of energy consumed by using compact fluorescent light bulbs, adjusting the thermostat, turning off lights and electronic devices when not in use, etc.; second, is to use renewable, clean energy such as wind and solar power; third is to ensure adequate tree coverage to absorb the same amount of CO2 that is emitted. He and his fellow organizers have no doubt that this grass roots approach will have a huge ripple effect, saying, “We can’t wait for big business and government to solve this. We are part of the problem, so we need to be part of the solution. If our tiny village can do this, anybody can.” He emphasized the power people have to change the world by quoting US Anthropologist and author, Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Simon mentioned how Guelph/Eramosa council unanimously agreed to support the project “in principle.” He and fellow organizer Libby Little presented their plan at last week’s meeting. The formal launch will take place Thursday, November 8 at 7 PM at the Eden Mills Community Hall, where specific plans for the first year of the project, partners and projects already underway, and information and guidelines for taking the first steps to reduce the village’s carbon footprint will be announced. For more information, visit www.goingcarbonneutral.ca.


A project of the Eden Mills Millpond Conservation Association Inc.

The Eden Mills Going Carbon Neutral Project is supported in part by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s Community Go Green Fund.