Canada’s first climate change solutions park in Penetanguishene looks to sprout

York University

Penetanguishene gardeners should prepare those neon trowels because the future of agriculture is a few short months away.

At a recent Penetanguishene regular meeting of council, staff authorization was given to proceed with signing an updated agreement with York University to utilize a portion of the Ecology Garden at 144 Fox Street to develop Canada’s first Climate Change Solutions Park.

“I think this is a great event for Penetanguishene,” stated Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau at the meeting.

“I think this has been in the works for a little while, it has great potential for us; climate change is front and centre.”

The intent of a climate change solutions park (CSP), according to York University, is to develop a safe and experiential learning opportunity with focus on renewable energy, electric mobility, precision agriculture, and leadership training.

Earlier this year, a presentation to council from York University sought Ecology Garden as the site for Canada’s first CSP. The collaboration would expand to include cutting edge research, innovation and skill development for the area.

CAO Jeff Lees responded that a forthcoming announcement would be made once the fine details had been worked out.

“What we identified in the report is that we will work with our local EDCNS (Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe), as well as York University once we have a final agreement,” said Lees.

“It’s a great success story and we want to get that message out there to the community.”

Since the initial proposal, Penetanguishene staff members have worked with York University representatives including their legal team and insurance specialists on minor alterations, which do not substantially change the content.

These include: a modification from lease to licence to relieve York University of a landlord-tenant agreement in the community gardeners’ best interest, and modifications of the terms of agreement to allow flexibility in applications such as grant funding.

A fee of $250 per year and the cost of all water use within the park covered by York University was also included in the updated agreement.

If finalized, residents can anticipate seeing project members at Ecology Garden by spring.

Information on the updated draft agreement can be found within the meeting agenda on the Town of Penetanguishene website.

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