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Kingston hosts the third annual Climate Change Symposium

Click to play video: 'Kingston hosts the third annual Climate Change Symposium the first after declaring a climate emergency'
Kingston hosts the third annual Climate Change Symposium the first after declaring a climate emergency
The 2020 Climate Change Symposium was co-hosted by Sustainable Kingston and the city. – Jan 16, 2020

The third annual Climate Change Symposium took place in Kingston, Ont., Thursday — the first since the city declared a climate emergency.

Several heavy-hitting guest speakers attended the 2020 Climate Change Symposium at the Grand Theatre in Kingston’s historic downtown.

“We have to be much more strategic and urgent and forward-thinking and adapting to a climate that has already changed,” says keynote speaker Jennifer Keesmaat, an award-winning Toronto urban planner and CEO of the Keesmaat Group.

“Kingston has an opportunity to become a true model for a sustainable city for the future,” she adds, “and in order to deliver that, there’s going to be some really tough questions asked around, how you will go grow?

“Where growth will go and how you will adapt and change in the 21st century.”

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READ MORE: Kingston first Ontario municipality to declare climate emergency

Kingston declared a climate emergency in March 2019, and according to the city, 60 per cent of Kingston’s current growth is the automobile-dependent suburbs.

READ MORE: Now that Kingston has declared a climate emergency, what does it mean?

According to Keesmaat, that’s not a sustainable approach to city building and active transportation.

“Upending that is going to be essential to whether you can truly become a transport-oriented city and a cycling city,” says Keesmaat, “because you get those things when you add intensification.”

Keesmaat argues there should not be a debate about tall buildings in the historic downtown core — rather, filling in the wide range of available land with low-rise buildings — adding density where people walk everywhere.

“Injecting significantly more choices in terms of how people live and how people get around is going to be foundational to making Kingston sustainable in the future,” Keesmaat said.

It is the hope of Sustainable Kingston and the city, who co-hosted the event, that Kingston will be carbon neutral by 2040.

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