Ambassadors ready to take next steps

The final training day for the Climate Action Ambassadors for St James Town took place on July 6, concluding the formal training part of CCA’s Ambassador Program. This workshop represented the culmination of our work to provide the Ambassadors with the tools they need to tackle key issues in St James Town, particularly those issues that are either related to, or directly caused by, climate change.

The training day opened with remarks by Patrick Gossage, Board Member, Rethink Sustainability Initiatives, who talked about why he feels this program is so important for both St James Town and Toronto as a whole. He said:

“These are extremely important issues. This is real, and this is happening now. I’ve lived through this in Cape Town, with three 100-year droughts between 2015 and 2018. That’s why awareness campaigns like this Community Climate Action initiative in St. James Town are so important. We need to be prepared for new realities!”

The first session focused on Urban Food Security, given by guest speakers Josephine Grey, Co-founder of the St. James Town Co-op/OASIS Food Hub, and Dr Rod McCrae, Professor, York University. Dr McRae highlighted how Covid-19 has impacted food provision infrastructure on a national level and exposed the ever-present inequalities in both our food and public health systems. Josephine spoke on a local level about the origins of the OASIS Food Hub, their successes in raising awareness about local food security in national media, and the challenges they have been facing with food security both before and throughout Covid-19.

Next up were Graeme Stewart and Ya’el Santopinto from ERA Architects, both recently appointed Fellows of the Royal Architectural Society. They spoke about multiple recent and ongoing retrofit projects, key elements for a new generation of Tower Renewal projects, best practices for resident engagement in occupied buildings, and they addressed raised concerns about affordability.

Our final speakers were Keith Burrows and Kaitlin Carroll from The Atmospheric Fund, who spoke about heat pump retrofits in older buildings, especially those that use electrical heating. They also spoke on engagement practices with building residents, and about apartment heat pump retrofit projects that The Atmospheric Fund has recently completed.

Of course, the focus for this training day was our Ambassadors, who were ‘graduating’ from the program. Each group gave a presentation on their work, outlining their group’s key focus and methodology, as well as real world applications and potential funding sources.

The last part of the workshop was a wrap-up, led by Yasmin Glanville, Project lead and Founder of Rethink Sustainability Initiatives. She showcased a future-focused model for project development, as well as reviewing the roadmap for the projects going forward. Each Ambassador also received a certificate of completion for the course, as well as a “Climate Action Ambassador” badge to share across their social media platforms.

Next steps for the Ambassadors include a mentorship program, both for each group and each individual Ambassador. Also keep an eye out on the CCA website for information on upcoming workshops, our Social Innovation Labs, and blogs from the Ambassador project groups themselves!

The CCA Team is very proud of their newly ‘graduated’ Climate Action Ambassadors, and we can’t wait to share how the projects they’re all working on progress.