Blog Contributor: Shannon Heaney
On November 24th, 2022, the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a partnership between the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and the Niagara Parks Commission, held a lunch and learn at the Legends on Niagara Golf Course. The lunch and learn afforded an opportunity to share information about the Niagara Parks Climate Readiness Plan, developed by the EESI, and discuss implementation actions for the future.
Ryan Plummer welcomed everyone and Steve Barnhart, Senior Director for Planning, Environment, and Culture, opened the event with a land acknowledgment. Ryan Plummer and Shannon Heaney then presented an overview of the Niagara Parks Climate Readiness Plan. Their presentation described the development of the plan, illustrated climate scenarios in the Niagara Region, and identified climate related threats specific to Niagara Parks.
The presentation also set out the three overarching goals which are the foundation of the plan. The three goals are to: 1) ensure public safety, 2) minimize risk to infrastructure, and 3) reduce net environmental, human and infrastructure costs of climate impacts.
Corey Burant, Project Manager for Forest Health Parks, Planning and Properties, shared information about the many current initiatives by Niagara Parks which address climate change such as native shoreline rehabilitation, the completion of the Feast on Certificate, and incentivizing sustainable travel among others.
Following the presentation, the EESI team next posed the following open-ended questions to over 25 attendees:
- How can you implement the climate readiness plan in your individual role?
- How can you implement the climate readiness plan in your business unit?
- How can Niagara Parks implement the climate readiness plan on an organization level?
- What can Niagara Parks do to build capacity to support implementation of the climate readiness plan?
Members of Niagara Parks carefully considered these questions and discussed them with their colleagues and were invited to record their ideas on sticky notes.
The discussion resulted in various interests and ideas from attendees. The first three questions, which asked about implementation of the Climate Readiness Plan, yielded similar themes. These themes included an interest in continual education and knowledge sharing about the Climate Readiness Plan, identifying ways to integrate and implement the Climate Readiness Plan including actions at the individual, business unit, and organizational level. Further, there was a strong interest regarding collaboration within Niagara Parks, as well as with external partners, and fostering motivations and ideas at all levels related to climate readiness. The discussion also generated excellent ideas on specific actions that could be implemented across Niagara Parks related to climate readiness.
The final question asked attendees to reflect on how Niagara Parks could build capacity to support implementation of the Climate Readiness Plan. Attendees echoed the themes above, identifying education and awareness as an important way to build capacity, as well as expanding collaboration both internally and externally, with partnerships that align with Niagara Parks mandate and mission.
Steve Barnhart, Senior Director for Planning, Environment and Culture, concluded the event by discussing next steps related to the Climate Readiness Plan within Niagara Parks. As participants left the event with an infographic in hand, requests were made for similar events in the future. The lunch and learn was a huge success, and sparked conversations about the Climate Readiness Plan which will continue beyond the 1-hour lunch and learn event.