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Collingwood leaders cast vision to earn title as 'greenest community in Canada'

Last night a group of residents and community leaders shared their own ideas and dreams for a community renowned for active transportation and environmental sustainability

Yesterday, a multi-generational crowd packed Gibson and Co. for a session designed to encourage the imagination.

Imagine Collingwood was organized by Tara Hunt, owner of Anytime Fitness in Collingwood and moderated by town councillor, Tina Comi.

“Canada needs more Collingwood,” said Hunt.

She shared her vision with the group. One day when she closed her eyes to imagine something big, she thought ‘what if Collingwood was the greenest community in Canada?”

The Tuesday evening event was Hunt’s way of encouraging more people to start imagining what it would look like if Collingwood was the greenest community in Canada.

Following Hunt was a line of speakers with their visions for a greener community.

Sarah Burke is the teacher overseeing a new club at Collingwood Collegiate Institute focused on entrepreneurship and social responsibility. Students are reaching out and looking for local businesses they can partner with to make suggestions for green solutions.

Councillor Yvonne Hamlin told the group about a private donor, Julie Di Lorenzo, who has pledged to donate $500,000 to the town over the next five years for new trees and tree planting.

Jack Marley, the co-chair of the Collingwood Trails Advisory Board, shared his vision for a trail network that is fully connected and reaches to Blue Mountain Village, and for some trail maintenance in the winter to encourage more year-round use.

Willemien Schurer pitched a plan to elect a bike mayor who would be the voice for cyclists and active transportation on town council. She shared stories from Amsterdam and Finland where active transportation via a bicycle is a high priority in city planning.

She also wants to see more kids walking to school on their own, and benefitting from the journey and independence of ambulating.

Justin Jones is an avid ride-around-towner, using a collection of bicycles, including an electric-assist “Dutch minivan” as transportation for him and his daughters.

“You get the city you plan for,” said Jones.

His vision of a greener Collingwood includes cycling and pedestrian routes that are safe in all four seasons.

He wants Collingwood to become “Biketown, Ontario.”

Dave Ohrling is one of the founding members of the Collingwood Climate Action Team. He shared the vision and early work of the group.

Finally, Collingwood Collegiate Institute students Nadine Olinyk and Reneé Fico, members of Gaia club, told the crowd their vision of a greener Collingwood was accomplished on that night at Gibson and Co.

Olinyk said her dream was for an invested and educated public to have discussions that focus on a way forward, and working together.

“We’ve basically made it,” she said.

Fico said she was pleasantly surprised to see so many generations in the room imagining Collingwood as the nation’s greenest community.

Fico was one of the students who organized the climate strike in September at town hall.

“I’m happy to see so many different generations here caring like my friends and I care,” she said.

If you’ve got ideas or are working toward a greener Collingwood, contact Tara Hunt by email here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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