Despite opinions to the contrary, we can say for sure that climate change, rising seas, and increasing extreme weather events are real. And let’s face it, we are the Island City. As such, we are subject to tides, flooding, extreme weather, and increasingly high temperatures. As city officials, it is our job to plan to keep our infrastructure - like underground water and sewer pipes, roads, and other city assets - sound and resistant to the impacts of climate change.
At the same time, we need to do our part to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which greatly contribute to our climate-related problems. We must also encourage and assist our residents and businesses to do the same, simultaneously. In achieving reliance, we need to lessen or avoid wherever possible the impact on normal business operations, and we can’t bust the budget to achieve these goals.
It’s a big job, especially for a small city like Wilton Manors, but I’m proud to share that we are on it. In February, the City Commission gave the Joint Wilton Manors-Oakland Park Climate Action Plan (CAP) the final stamp of approval. The Joint CAP identifies seven ambitious goals to adapt our cities to the impacts of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan also identifies an emissions reduction goal: 1 percent per year, for the next decade.
To our knowledge, this collaboration between two adjacent cities is the first of its kind, and it makes perfect sense. Most people have no idea where Wilton Manors ends and Oakland Park starts, and our shared roads and waterways are logical areas for collaboration.
So what comes next? Measuring our greenhouse gas emissions, through an inventory, will provide baseline numbers by which to measure our reductions. We expect that the inventory will show that the single highest source of emissions will be residential and commercial energy in the form of electricity.
Finding ways to reduce consumption of electricity, as well as utilizing alternative energy sources, will be on the radar for the coming year. And once the city has a municipal plan for emissions reduction, we’ll be looking at a comprehensive program for incentivizing our residents and businesses to do their part too. We’ve already begun by offering ridesharing discounts, encouraging visitors and residents alike to leave their cars at home. Other city incentives include rebates for low flow toilets, adopting the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, and two electric vehicle charging stations.
“Life’s just better here” in Wilton Manors because of the clean and green trajectory of our city. We certainly owe it to ourselves and our city’s future to keep moving forward on this path, and I am thankful our neighbors, city commission, city staff, and businesses share this as a community value. Or in other words, as my colleague Vice Mayor Tom Green likes to say, “Life’s Just Greener Here.”
– Justin Flippen
Mayor of Wilton Manors