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Making a local impact

Queen’s students consult with regional leaders and research best practices to help the Town of Gananoque develop an actionable plan to help fight climate change.

Aerial photograph of the Town of Gananoque
The Town of Gananoque is located just outside Kingston on the St. Lawrence River. (Adobe Stock)

Climate change is a global problem, but communities around the world are looking to contribute to the solution by making local changes. When the Town of Gananoque decided to create a sustainability plan, they turned for help to a team of Queen’s students in Smith Business Consulting (SBC), a student-run management consulting firm that partners with businesses, start-ups, non-profits, and government to provide high-impact, cost-effective advice.

Julian Burger, Engineering ’21, and Christian Filippini, Commerce ’22, took part in the SBC program this past summer, and they took on the challenge of developing an Environmental and Energy Action Plan for the town, located just outside of Kingston on the St. Lawrence River.

The students researched municipal climate planning in Canada, developed a situational analysis of Gananoque, and presented their final plan to Gananoque in August.

“Julian and Christian provided an energy plan that ranged from concepts that were easy to implement to long range concepts that the Town of Gananoque needs to plan for,” says Gananoque Mayor Ted Lojko. “They researched what other municipalities had included in their energy and environment impact plans, undertook outreach into the community, and provided a thorough plan that clearly addressed the energy and environment impacts of various sectors.”

Using utilities data provided by the town, Burger and Filippini developed an emissions inventory for Gananoque. The town can use this baseline going forward to set climate goals and measure the impact of their carbon reduction strategies. The students also provided actionable first steps, such as identifying local buildings that could be made more environmentally friendly with strategic retrofitting.

The Environmental and Energy Action Plan charts a path for Gananoque to meet the criteria to join Partners for Climate Protection (PCP), a national network of more than 400 municipalities working to reduce emissions. Joining PCP would commit the town to completing a five-step process within 10 years that would result in a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The plan also identifies funding opportunities Gananoque could pursue to finance sustainability projects.

“Working on the Environmental and Energy Action Plan gave me an opportunity to make a localized and tangible impact on one of the most pressing problems facing our planet today,” says Filippini. “It was a capstone component in my educational experience as it gave me a chance to apply both financial and environmental theories that I’ve learned in my courses. As well as an opportunity to develop real-world consultancy and business skills in a way that no traditional classroom could replicate. It will be rewarding to see Gananoque implement some of our recommendations going forward.”

This work with Gananoque is only the latest project that SBC has undertaken for nearby municipalities. Recently, SBC has also completed a report on affordable housing for Prince Edward County as well as a review of public transportation for Gananoque, among other projects.

“Our students have become trusted advisers and partners for eastern Ontario communities,” says Charlie Mignault, Director of SBC and Adjunct Professor at the Smith School of Business who supervised the students. “The SBC program selects projects based on our students’ interests. This work integrated learning platform provides a challenging performance environment where students are highly motivated and create real value for our clients. In the end, clients move their objectives forward and our students benefit from solving real-world business challenges while developing contemporary workforce skills and capabilities.”

Learn more about Smith Business Consulting on the Smith School of Business website.