Municipality: Town of Aurora Implementation: 2010-08-01
Policy Name: Corporate Environmental Action Plan(CEAP) Contact: Christina Nagy-Oh
Department: Environmental Initiatives Title: Program Manager
Community profile:

Overview of the Municipality / Community:

·         Population (2011) - 53,203, representing a growth rate of 11.7% from 2006, compared to the national average growth of 5.9%; an additional 20,000 residents by 2031.

·         On February 3, 2013, Aurora celebrated its 150th anniversary.

·         Geographic area: Located within the Greater Toronto Area and the growing York Region on the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

·         Aurora is benefited from connections to GO Transit and Toronto Transit Commission. Aurora Transit provided feeder service to GO Transit commuter trains and buses as well as community bus service to town’s major destinations.

·         Geographic features: Aurora is a mosaic of contemporary living in charming heritage surroundings that continues to attract those looking for the ideal mix of small town friendliness and urban amenities. Residents enjoy a variety of sporting and cultural facilities. The Town is home to land with soil capability to accommodate agriculture, encompass three separate headwaters, open spaces, natural areas, wildlife and wildlife habitat/corridors.

·         Industry profile: The community is home to 1,300 businesses including approximately 150 major industries and head offices and features a strong entrepreneurial spirit with over 84% of Aurora businesses employing less than twenty employees. Forecasted to an additional 10,000 jobs by 2031. 

Short Description:

The CEAP is structured around four elemental themes: Air, Water, Fire (Energy) and Earth (Land).


The Corporate Environmental Action Plan (CEAP) is a five-year plan that will allow the Corporation of the Town of Aurora to meet its environmental goals. The Plan focuses on what the Town can do to protect and enhance the natural environment. The Plan also supports the implementation of the Town’s Strategic Plan, new Official Plan, master plans, and other ongoing environmental activities. The CEAP planning process, consultation, and outcome will provide the Town with an opportunity to capitalize on past experiences and implement changes that will empower Aurora to deliver progressive environmental policies and ensure that all departments are working together to achieve common environmental objectives. The purpose of the Town of Aurora’s Corporate Environmental Action Plan is to:

• Protect and enhance the natural environment;

• Be a catalyst for local initiatives that promote environmental sustainability, integrity and conservation of our resources and ecosystem;

• To enhance environmental stewardship within the community.

Step by Step Process:

To ensure implementation, the Town will need to follow the three steps below.

1.    Integrate the CEAP Framework into the Day-to-Day Functioning of the Municipality

Key to the implementation of the CEAP is the governance and accountability structures that will be in place to move the Plan forward. The Chief Administrative Officer’s (CAO’s) office under the Manager of Strategic Initiatives and the Manager of Environmental Initiatives will be responsible for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of this Plan. The following actions will be pursued to successfully integrate the CEAP into the day-to-day function of the municipality:

·         By Fall 2010, CAO is to confirm and support the ongoing role of the Environmental Management Team (EMT) to manage the implementation of the CEAP. The implementation team will include representatives from all Departments and will report to the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). The CAO’s office will act as the internal champion for the CEAP and its implementation.

·         Annually-consistent with budgeting cycle: Individual Departments, with the assistance of EMT, will consider the implementation of this Plan when developing departmental priorities and preparing departmental budgets.

2.    Maintain and Enhance Internal and External Partnerships

·         As the Town moves forward with implementation of the CEAP, we will need to continue to build/enhance existing internal (between departments) and external partnerships (with community groups and residents, e.g. Community Arboretum). Further, the Town will continue to take a leadership role with respect to environmental protection and preservation in the community, in part, by establishing any relevant new partnerships.

3.    Continually Review and Enhance this Plan

·         The CEAP is a ‘living plan’ that must be recognized by staff and Council as an evolving document. Council is committed to:

·         Review and update the Plan every five years;

·         Review annual implementation plans in concert with departmental business plans;

·         Prepare an annual report card.

Primary Drivers:

To protect and enhance the natural environment, promote environmental sustainability, integrity and conservation of resources and create a practice of environmental stewardship within the community. 


Council support and the formation of a group of staff (the environmental Management Team) that meet quarterly every year since it was developed to both develop and implement the Plan. 


Aurora Town Council endorsed the development of the plan which was initiated and guided by the Town’s Environmental Advisory Committee and developed together with Town staff and a consulting group.

Key Individuals:

Mayor Phyllis Morris, Councillor Bob McRoberts. Councillor Evelina MacEachern, Councillor Wendy Gaertner, Councillor Stephen Granger, Councillor Alison Collins-Mrakas, Councillor Evelyn Buck, Councillor Al Wilson, Councillor John Gallo.


It is difficult to have the whole team agree on the scope of the project for the first iteration, finding the funds to support the implementation.


The process of developing and implementing the plan connected many projects and staff working in silos. The annual progress report serves to educate all staff, council, business community and residents of our annual environmental achievements.


Difficulty setting goals and timelines on projects that are being attempted to be tackled with other municipal partners.


Partnering more with the Region, financially and otherwise. Trying to connect with local environmental organizations to share information and resources.


There are considerable completed, current and ongoing corporate Town environmental actions, activities and initiatives that convey Aurora’s environmental successes and commitments.


·        Installed traffic circles to reduce stops/starts thereby reducing emissions

·        Addition of Smart Car to the fleet, 2008

·        Installed 17 Idle Free Zone signs at 6 Town owned facilities

Fire (Energy)

·        Participated in York Region Demand Response Program since 2006 in order to conserve energy during summer months when the electricity demand is at its peak.

·        Greening of Aurora Facilities – green building technology and retrofits have been installed that will save on gas and hydro consumption and reduce carbon emissions. Examples include: Public Library, Family Leisure Complex and Town Hall.

·        Stronach Aurora Recreation Complex - The design for this Complex has been recognized by Natural Resources Canada ecoEnergy program as a facility that reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

·        Town of Aurora received 2008 Aurora Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Awards: Conservation and Environmental Sustainability.

·        Bullfrog Eco - Certified Green Power -Aurora has committed to purchasing green power in 2008 to 2010 to power Town Hall with green power.

·        Town of Aurora capital projects retrofits for energy conservation.

Earth (Land)

·        Wildlife Park: The Community Wildlife Park will be approximately 170 Acres and consists of a portion of the East Holland River valley lands and adjacent natural areas located east of Bayview Avenue, between Wellington Street East and St. John's Side road, in northeast Aurora.

·        Two Town nurseries grow trees and harvest seedling trees from Town woodlots to maintain native genetics.

·        The Aurora Community Arboretum was established in 1996. A Master Plan for the Arboretum was completed in 2005; it provides for a Specimen Tree Collection, education for residents, a Discovery Trail and many other initiatives related to the collection and preservation of trees and shrubs. The Town of Aurora has been a funding partner to the Arboretum’s 10 year Implementation Plan since 2007.

·        Boardwalks - Installation of boardwalks over environmentally sensitive areas i.e. wetlands/marshes.

·        Fertilizer/Herbicides/Pesticides - Parks greenhouse operations use biological (beneficial insects) to control non – desirable insects.

·        Trails/Woodlots - Trail systems are constructed using permeable surfaces and are not lit, lowering light pollution levels.

·        Use of Eco Friendly Building Materials - Since 2008 the Town of Aurora uses ecologically friendly building materials where possible when doing renovations, repairs and maintenance to Town of Aurora facilities including: re-using materials, recyclable carpet replacement and low VOC paints and adhesives.

·        Installation of bicycle paths and trails where/when possible and published a map/plan showing bicycle routes/trails.

·        Salt Reduction Plan has documented a decrease in salt use from 200kg/km/lane to 170kg/km/lane.

·        Brine tanks have been installed and all Town trucks and (most) contracted trucks are fitted with pre-wetting equipment.


·        A holding tank was installed at Ada Johnson Park to catch the runoff from the splash pad and rainwater; water is used to water trees, new sod and annual plant displays around Town of Aurora.

·        In 2006 the Town changed over 20% of the hanging baskets to a reservoir based container; this has resulted in less frequent watering, less run off and a decrease in vehicular emissions.

·        Stream bank and erosion control projects restore and protect creeks and water courses, provide vegetation enhancements and buffers.

Aurora initiated the retrofit of four existing stormwater management facilities accomplishing the following:

·        Improved the quality of stormwater runoff by up to 80%.

·        Reduced the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe by up to 84 kg/year.

·        Cut back weed growth in our waterways by 41.6 t/year. 

Lessons Learned:

Developing an internal team made up of staff to help steer the development and take responsibility for implementation were key.

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

The Town of Aurora has a number of plans that guide priorities, daily actions and planning for the future. These include plans developed by the Town as well as other jurisdictions that were critical to the development of this plan:

·        Town of Aurora’s Strategic Plan

·        Town of Aurora’s Official Plan

·        Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan

·        Community Wildlife Park Master Plan

·        Town of Aurora Parks and Recreation Master Plan

·        York Region’s Sustainability Strategy

·        York Region’s Official Plan

Further Information:

Corporate Environmental Action Plan

Corporate Environmental Action Plan – Progress Report 2011

Official Plan