Milestone Five

Population PCP member since GHG reduction target
91,514 2005
  • Corporate target of 13.8% below 1995 levels by 2016
  • Community targets of 19% below 1995 levels by 2016

Rockport Community Garden in Pickering

While the City of Pickering is extremely proud to have achieved Milestone 5 in the Partners for Climate Protection Program, we are eager to continue on our sustainability journey. Pickering is expecting substantial growth over the next two decades, and we need to ensure that this growth is balanced and sustainable, making for a more vibrant and livable city.
— Dave Ryan, Mayor of Pickering

Pickering's City Development Department coordinates corporate and community initiatives through its Sustainable Pickering program. Embedding sustainability into the department's decision making has been a key component to its success.

Two years after joining the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program, the City of Pickering became the fifth Ontario municipality to complete Milestones 1-3. In 2014, Pickering was recognized for completing Milestones 4-5. 

In 2008, Durham Sustain Ability was retained to help develop a strategy and framework for actions the city could take to reduce energy and emissions. Among other things, the strategy helped with the creation of the city's Corporate Energy Management Plan (CEMP), a five-year road map that focuses on how the city can use energy resources more efficiently. The plan was designed to meet requirements of Ontario's Green Energy Act.

Progress is tracked through the city's Measuring Sustainability initiative, which reports on 55 sustainability indicators in five categories (environment, economy, society, development and consumption); corporate and community emissions and energy consumption are included. 

Pickering received support for PCP Milestones 1, 2 and 3 from FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF 5158).

Key projects and results

Energy management and retrofits

The city has conducted energy audits throughout all of its facilities to determine how to optimize existing equipment and where improvements can be made. Gilbert Boehm, supervisor of energy management reported that many audits led directly to retrofits, such as interior and exterior lighting upgrades, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, including variable speed drives, as well as upgrades to its energy management information systems.


  • Energy efficiency projects have reduced overall energy use in city facilities by 8.6 per cent and GHG emissions by 10.6 per cent compared with pre-project levels.   


  • Retrofit projects have saved the city approximately $200,000 a year in energy and operating costs.   


  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED fixtures at four indoor tennis courts eliminated the noise from the old ballasts and lead to a more enjoyable playing environment.
  • Boehm also reports that people have started noticing the occupancy sensors in city buildings and are now asking if sensors can be installed in other areas.

Recreation Complex Integrated Energy Project

A design engineering study was conducted of the city's Recreation Complex to establish the scope for a large-scale retrofit project for 2015.  Due to the heating and cooling requirements of the complex, symbiotic relationships were identified that yielded desirable redundancies and considerable energy savings.  Aging inventory will be decommissioned and a new integrated suite of energy efficient equipment will be installed, including compressors, boilers, heat exchangers, a chiller and dehumidifier.

Waste heat generated by both the ice-making and air conditioning equipment will be used to heat water for the domestic hot water supply, swimming pools and heated loops for dehumidifiers, saving energy in spring and autumn.  This type of integration means that the requirement for cooling towers will be virtually eliminated as waste heat is rerouted in a sequence of prioritized heating requirements. New building automation systems, including infrared cameras, will monitor processes such as ice rink temperatures to stabilize ice conditions and energy consumption.


  • Expected GHG emissions reduced by approximately 106 tonnes annually.
  • Electricity demand will fall by about 274 kilowatts per year, and the use of more than 16,700 m3 of natural gas will be eliminated.


  • Energy-efficient upgrades are expected to yield a payback period of about five years.  


  • Reduced number of hours staff spend maintaining aging equipment - time that can be freed up to provide better service to the users of the complex.
  • Higher quality ice for skaters due to highly monitored and automated ice-making equipment.

Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods

The Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods initiative evolved from the city's Measuring Sustainability exercise. Any group of five or more people can register — neighbourhood groups, friends, schools, faith-based groups, businesses or other organizations. The group then chooses which of the 55 sustainability indicators they want to address and the activities they'll do to tackle them. The program runs from March to November. At the conclusion, the city hosts a celebration event to recognize the group's efforts. Each group presents their activities, hears about what others have done, and votes for the 'Best Group Effort.' The winning group receives the opportunity to work with the city on a $10,000 community enhancement project of their choice.

  • Environmental projects have included tree plantings, community gardens, installing rain barrels, restoring natural habitats, litter clean ups, recycling initiatives, and energy and water conservation activities.
  • In one project, 1,400 pounds of electronic waste were recycled and diverted from landfill.
  • The initiative raised awareness about environmental issues, including the wise use of resources.


  • Group activities included raising money for charity. The Dunbarton High School Environmental Council joined the 2014 CN Tower Walk to raise funds for climate change research; the Canadian Progress Club Durham South raised $10,000 in support of Grandview Children's Centre; Highbush Community Yoga hosted monthly yoga events and raised thousands of dollars in money, food and toys for seven local charities and an international effort; a Rainy Day Drive organized food bank collections, as well as two substantial international relief efforts.
  • The EcoBusiness Advisory Committee of the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade developed an environmental stewardship checklist that helps promote a culture of sustainability within the business community.


  • In its second year, the program had 10 registered groups, made of more than 1,300 participants, who completed over 70 community-building activities.
  • Being community-driven is key to the success of the program. The program creates a sense of belonging, gives people a platform, recognition and the encouragement to do more.


  • Funding and staff resources are always a challenge but that shouldn't stop a municipality from doing what it can.
  • Pickering researched its internal corporate barriers and ways to overcome them. For example, a lack of resources to dedicate to energy efficiency was solved by creating a supervisory position to oversee the process.

Lessons learned

  • When Pickering upgraded its tennis court lighting to LED the community was more interested in how the quality of the new lighting provided a better playing environment than they were in energy or emissions savings.
  • Many city staff members view energy in a different way and that has created a wider cultural change throughout city operations.

Milestone Completion

  • Milestone 1 — 2007 (Corp.) 2007 (Comm.)
  • Milestone 2 — 2007 (Corp.) 2007 (Comm.)
  • Milestone 3 — 2007 (Corp.) 2007 (Comm.)
  • Milestone 4 — 2014 (Corp.), 2014 (Comm.)
  • Milestone 5 — 2014 (Corp.), 2014 (Comm.)


Partners and collaborators

Project Contacts

Chantal Whitaker
Coordinator, Sustainability
City of Pickering, ON
T. 905-420-4660 ext. 2170

David Ryan, Mayor   
City of Pickering, ON
T. 905-420-4600 ext. 4600


PCP Secretariat
T. 613-907-6392

© 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities