The newly formed Hastings Sustainability Working Group (HSWG) is trying to define sustainability as it relates to Hastings County. The concept is hard to pin down. At present, it is like trying to identify an elephant that one can feel but not see.
These are some of the issues people in Hastings County are thinking about:-
Food security: we need to support local farmers and eat locally grown food. Check Harvest Hastings.
Green Capital of Hastings County: There is potential in Hastings County or new biomass based green industry and there is a need to promote sustainable forest practices. This involves protecting woodlands aand managing them in sustainable ways, creating linking corridors by planting trees in new rural residential areas and urban settlements and replacing trees taken down for development. This is in addition to on-going tree planting program using native species.
Conserving biodiversity: by protecting habitats rather than placing emphasis on endangered species.
Protecting water recharge areas: in conjunction with Source Water Protection Committee.
Education about water conservation: urban people are moving in to rural areas who don’t know about living with a well.
Energy conservation and cutting our carbon footprint: Phasing out old marine engines, lawn mowers, old ATVs etc. Reducing energy use – low energy light bulbs, yard lights, insulation, energy efficient appliances. Green roofs, rain water irrigation systems. Alternative energy: windmills, solar heating, photo-voltaic, water power, heat pumps both land and lake based. (Farms in Hastings County generated electricity before mains hydro came in).
Transport: Need to encourage car pooling, public transport and use of bikes, small carts and walking.
Energy from waste: septage, animal waste. anaerobic digesters linked to district heating. There are people at Loyalist College with expertise. Developing alternative fuels from waste oil to power farm machinery. Developing biofuel from non food crops.
Waste management: recycling residents need to know more about what can and cannot be recycled. Burn barrels are an issue. Farmers need tto be able to recycle bale wrap rather than having to burn it.
Sustainable housing: Use local building materials: stone, timber, and straw. Allow smaller houses, but tax at a standard rate. Encourage solar water heating on all new houses.
Changing behavior: Importance of retaining and building a sense of place, history and bio-geography. Ecological literacy: people have emotional involvement with the environment, but lack basic knowledge and ecological literacy.
Potential for further links with/between Loyalist College and Fleming College. Quinte Sustainability SymposiumCentre Hastings straw bale Arts Centre. There is education potential of Loyalist College grounds.
Lack of high-speed Internet in parts of Hastings County: introduction of high speed has had a major impact on Coe Hill area.
Sustaining Hastings highlights what is already going on and who is doing what in Hastings County. There are also articles about what is happening elsewhere
HSWG will have a project based approach: pick low hanging fruit to start with, for example projects that have already started. The group will review the issues papers which form the basis for the new County of Hastings Official Plan. The group will also work on establishing indicators of sustainability to measure where we are and how we are improving.