Kitchener, Ontario has announced the creation of a sustainability office and the appointment of its first sustainability officer, Claire Bennett, who will begin her role at the city on April 3rd, building on the city’s work in managing stormwater and lowering GHG emissions.

Bennett has spent the last seven years developing and leading a sustainability program at Wilfrid Laurier University that is recognized on a national and international scale. In her role, she will lead the development and implementation of the city’s Corporate Climate Action Plan and establish standards, policies, and procedures that will help the city reach the organization’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target of eight per cent below 2015 levels by 2026 as well as contribute to achieving the community’s target.

Claire Bennett.

“Being a leader in environmental sustainability is something that our residents regularly identify as a key municipal priority,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “We need to build a culture of sustainability and lead by example in terms of asset management, energy consumption, water and waste initiatives and building and operating environmentally responsible facilities.”

The creation of an organizational sustainability role was undertaken to ensure that the city is in compliance with increasing legislative requirements and higher expectations from the public by embedding a framework of sustainability into its policies and planning.

“Kitchener is already quite progressive in the area of sustainability and I couldn’t be more excited to join their team,” said Bennett. “I believe wholeheartedly this needs to be fully embraced throughout society—sustainability is one of the biggest contemporary issues the world is facing today. I look forward to leveraging the skills and resources already in place to embed sustainability into the very fabric of the organization.”

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Bennett will also work with staff across the organization on a variety of environmental initiatives, track progress, and present annual updates to council on project and program achievements.

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