Two women sharing their vision of sustainability at a local farmer's marketThe Greater Peterborough Area has a long history of sustainability, one which has earned us our strong reputation. Following on the heels of the much famed United Nations report, ‘Our Common Future’, our first conversation on sustainability, the ’Our Common Future’ forum, was held in 1989. The forum brought together over 200 community members to discuss our collective future and share our vision and suggestions for local action. This forum produced a number of recommendations that were widely circulated and affected the creation and actions of local environmental groups. A follow-up forum was held in 1991. The City of Peterborough’s Mayor, Sylvia Sutherland, responded positively to a community request and formed the Mayor’s Committee on Sustainable Development. The Mayor’s Committee worked from 1990 to 1992 to further refine the agenda on sustainability and promote implementation by identifying priorities, increasing knowledge and awareness, and building stronger links between our citizens, organizations, businesses, and government.

In 1990 a sub-committee of the Mayor’s Committee, in collaboration with members of the community, developed the Sustainable Development Task Force Report, identifying numerous recommendations to encourage action and provide further direction for the future. Peterborough Green-Up was established in 1992 as a result of the recommendations of the Task Force Report.

Vision 2020, completed in 1996, brought key sustainability concepts to a wider business audience. This was followed in 2000 by the formation of the Peterborough Sustainability Network, a network of academics and environmental professionals intended to explore policy issues. By 2006, a small group of the Peterborough Sustainability Network members were meeting for breakfast monthly to try to capture the attention of key leaders in the region. The Network asked the Mayor to host other Members of Council as well as City and County staff in a workshop on sustainability in early 2007. The Councils of the City and County of Peterborough then decided to support a regional sustainability planning initiative beginning in 2007 and involving City and County staff, environmentalists, retirees, educators, students, and members of the business community. The Prosperity Round Table also continued the discussion on sustainability amongst the business community.

In 2009, ‘Sustainable Peterborough’ received City of Peterborough project funding, complemented with additional funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canada’s Rural Partnership, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough. More than 20 years after the community’s first conversation on sustainability, Lura Consulting, in association with Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited and Grant Consulting, was hired to facilitate the development of the Sustainable Peterborough Plan. The Sustainable Peterborough Plan is the culmination of 18 months of collaboration, engagement and hard work, marking the shift from planning to doing.