Active transportation refers to any form of human-powered transportation — walking, cycling, roller blading or skateboarding. Choosing active transportation instead of driving reduces air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.
- Oakville has 200.6 kilometres of active transportation routes.
- In addition to expanding the network of routes, the town has invested in supporting cycling infrastructure.
The ecological footprint is a measurement tool that tracks the environmental impact of human consumption. Oakville’s ecological footprint measures household consumption of food, transportation, housing, goods and services, and government services. Then, it shows the findings in terms of the land area needed to support that level of consumption in global hectares (gha) per person.
- The ecological footprint for Oakville has shown decreases since it was first measured in 2010.
- The per capita ecological footprint for Oakville is 8.3 gha.
Oakville’s recreational trail system is an important asset that helps residents and visitors connect with the outdoors, stay active, and engage with the natural environment. Studies indicate that access to nature contributes to physical and mental wellbeing and overall health.
- Oakville has one of the most extensive trail systems in Southern Ontario. Frequent additions of new trails has greatly expanded trail availability throughout the town.
- In 2016, the town maintained 220.3 kilometres of recreational trails.
Public transit reduces the number of cars on the road improving air quality and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Public transit is also, generally, a more cost effective choice and is better for the environment than traveling by car.
- Ridership data tells us how many people are using Oakville’s public transit system. In 2016, annual ridership reached 2.9 million trips which equals an average of 15 trips per Oakville resident.
Exposure to air pollution can make it harder to breathe, irritate your lungs and worsen chronic diseases. Studies have shown that even minor increases in air pollution can cause small increases in emergency room visits, hospital admissions and deaths.
- In 2016, 34 days were classified as posing a moderate health risk due to air pollution levels. The remaining days in the year were classified as low risk. Oakville experienced zero days at high risk levels.
How permeable a surface is lets us know how water moves through it. Water can either be:
- absorbed by soil or natural cover (permeable), or
- it can flow on top of hard surfaces such as roads, driveways, parking lots and most buildings (impermeable).
Water that does not soak into the ground is called runoff and can pick up debris or chemicals as it moves into lakes and rivers causing polluted water. Runoff can also cause flooding, which is a growing concern with more extreme weather and rain due to climate change.
- In 2017, about 45% of the town had impermeable land cover. We are looking at ways to expand the amount of naturally covered area to increase the town's resiliency to flooding.
Greenspace is important for better air and water quality, flood protection, climate stability and biodiversity protection.
Accessing greenspaces and natural areas has been shown to improve mental and physical wellness, increase quality of life and foster stronger community cohesion.
- Oakville has 2,519 hectares of publicly owned greenspace. Over the last five years, the town has added 18 hectares of greenspace and continues to identify land for protection and opportunities to expand greenspace.
High phosphorus levels impact plants and animals in our water by causing algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle, lowering oxygen levels and contaminating the water. Ways that phosphorus get into our water include fertilizers, manure, organic wastes, detergents and wastewater treatment plant discharge.
- Average annual phosphorus levels for Sixteen Mile Creek, Fourteen Mile Creek and Bronte Creek all had annual phosphorus levels well below their respective ten-year averages.
Chloride is another naturally occurring nutrient that can be toxic to aquatic life if levels are too high. Elevated chloride levels in Oakville creeks are primarily a result of road salting during winter months.
- Average annual chloride levels vary across Oakville’s creeks. Fourteen Mile Creek is consistently above, Sixteen Mile Creek fluctuates above and below and Bronte Creek has remained below. As of 2014 the trend for all three creeks has been trending upward.
Corporate greenhouse gas
The town is committed to reducing the use of non-renewable energy at town facilities and improving air quality in Oakville. By using less electricity and natural gas, we not only save money, we lower our impact on the environment.
- The town’s baseline year of measurement is 2012, with a goal to achieve a 15% reduction in energy consumption at town facilities by 2019.
- As of 2016, the town has seen a 3.7% energy use intensity reduction since 2012.
Education and outreach programs support the awareness of environmental sustainability issues.
Monitoring the number of events that the town hosts and/or participates in each year helps understand our efforts in raising the profile of the environmental sustainability efforts.
- The trend is hosting fewer but larger events.
- In addition to the events, the town provides online education material and outreach through social media and works to deliver programs with community partners such as Conservation Halton, Oakvillegreen and the Halton Environmental Network.
Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal can help replace non-renewable fossil-based sources such as nuclear and natural gas. Most renewable energy sources produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions which helps lower environmental impacts.
- In 2016, Oakville Enterprises Corporation (the parent company of Oakville Hydro) generated 27,336 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity from renewable energy sources. These sources included solar, gas capture from landfill and hydro.
Electricity generation can produce a number of air pollutants or toxic materials depending on how the electricity is produced.
Reducing electricity use is good for the environment and lowers household electrical bills, saving you money.
- Electricity consumption levels have been relatively stable the past three years. Electricity consumption per person in 2016 was 2% below the five-year average and virtually unchanged when compared to 2015 levels.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that, when burned, contributes to climate change and other air pollutants.
Reducing natural gas use is good for the environment and lowers gas bills, saving you money.
Programs targeted towards reducing home energy use and more energy efficient heating systems can contribute to decreases in household heating costs. On average, the natural gas consumption per person is 742 cubic metres annually.
The amount of waste diverted from landfills helps us understand how effective our efforts have been to recycle, reduce and reuse.
Diverting waste through recycling and composting programs extends the life of our landfills, reduces energy use, and limits the need for extracting, refining and processing new raw materials.
The amount of waste generated per person has decreased in the past decade with more waste being diverted through blue bin recycling, organics, yard waste, and white goods and metal recycling programs. Rates have been consistent over the last five years hovering around 58 per cent.
Efficient use of water reduces our impact on water resources and reduces the energy required to treat and transport water to our homes. It is also good for cost avoidance, because it is cheaper to conserve water than it is to increase treatment capacity.
- Despite increasing population, total residential water use has remained steady since 2005. Gains in population have been offset by lower household water use. The average water use per person, per day, is 220 litres.
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