WATERLOO REGION — Local municipal councils are working on a Community Climate Action Plan in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The work will cost millions, but local politicians say the payback is worth it.

“We talk so much about the cost of infrastructure, but this is about the opportunity to service multiple needs that our community really believes in,” said Waterloo Coun. Jeff Henry.

Local municipalities have corporate greenhouse gas reduction plans that lay the framework for a community-wide reduction.

In October, Waterloo city council voted to spend about $4.1 million to implement 102 energy retrofits at up to 39 city properties as part of a corporate greenhouse gas reduction plan.

Henry said the upgrades will cut down the city’s infrastructure deficit by about $2 million and could yield cost savings through energy efficiencies.

On Monday, Cambridge and Waterloo councils endorsed an action plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 2010 emission levels by 2020.

REEP Green Solutions, Sustainable Waterloo Region, the Region of Waterloo, Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo have joined a collaboration called Climate Action Waterloo Region that’s helping guide the process.

“This isn’t one target for one municipality; this is one target for a whole region,” Henry said. “This is all about working together … to make a real difference.”

A total of 24 projects have been identified to help the cities meet their goal, according to a staff report.

Cambridge says six of eight proposed projects in its plan have been budgeted for.

The two that will have the most impact and return on investment haven’t been budgeted for. It could cost about $3.75 million by 2019 to upgrade furnaces and street lights, according to a staff report. It’s estimated savings would return the investment in five to seven years.

The Region of Waterloo also has a corporate plan. Regional council pledged in October to reach a five-per-cent drop in emissions by 2019. But 10 to 15 per cent of the projects proposed to help meet the goal aren’t budgeted for. Staff estimate it could cost up to $7.5 million to make that happen.

Kitchener council will consider endorsement Nov. 18. Details on costs are not available until Nov. 13, staff said.

The region will vote on the issue Dec. 3.

Paige Desmond – pdesmond@therecord.com