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City challenges residents to go beyond Earth Hour

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Earth Hour is set for the evening of March 19, and the City Of Oshawa is hoping residents will not only shut their lights off from 8:30 to 9:30, but search for ways to conserve after that.

The Energy Conservation Challenge runs from March 19 to Earth Day on April 22 and looks for residents to submit their best energy saving tips. These environmentally friendly tidbits will be reviewed by the Oshawa Environmental Advisory Committee and the top three will get gift cards to Oshawa restaurants ($100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third).

“It’s just a great opportunity for people to learn how to conserve energy while being more environmentally sustainable,” says Councillor Amy McQuaid-England.

Submissions to the contest can be made at

The Earth Hour announcements also came with a pair of good news stories for Oshawa and the province.

Between 2007 and 2014, Oshawa reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent, which exceeds its goal of 20 per cent by 2020 laid out in the Partners for Climate Protection program. The feat got the city recognition from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

“Every day we need to respect the environment,” says Mayor John Henry. “Anything that we can do to bring some recognition to the importance of reuse, recycle conserve are all good things.”

The province also recently released its 2014 Air Quality report which showed Ontarians are breathing much cleaner air than they were 10 years ago.

Not a single smog advisory has been issued in the last two years due to the reduction in smog-causing pollutants, and the air quality has been rated good or very good 94 per cent of the time.

The elimination of coal-fired power plants, Drive Clean initiatives and emission caps on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are credited with helping to freshen Ontario’s air.