Huntsville is defined by the natural elements of the area. Its lakes, forests and wildlife play a prominent part of the Town’s identityHuntsville recognizes its role in protecting its natural beauty and encouraging everyone that lives, works and plays in the Town to be a good environmental steward.

Huntsville’s Changing Climate 

The climate in Huntsville and the Muskoka Region is changing, and climate change is currently and projected to continue to affect the region in many ways.

In a high emissions scenario, Huntsville’s annual average temperature could go from 4.9 °C to 11.4 °C for the last 30 years of this century. This means the projected change in mean number of +30 °C days could go from 4.7 to 17.4, a change of nearly 13 days.  Under a high emissions scenario, the average annual precipitation is projected to be 18% higher for the last 30 years of this century. *Data is from the Climate Data Canada and Climate Atlas of Canada 

The Town continues to recognize the importance of climate action to mitigate and adapt while helping its residents and businesses to become more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate.

Council declared a climate emergency on June 28, 2021, and has been working with the District of Muskoka and Area Municipalities to meet the Federal emission targets of at least 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

A declaration of Climate Emergency is a resolution passed by a governing body such as a Town Council. It puts the local government on record in support of emergency action to respond to climate change and recognizes the pace and scale of action needed.

More than 2,000 jurisdictions and local governments around the world representing more than one billion citizens have made Climate Emergency Declarations, including most major cities in Canada and the Government of Canada.



Idle-Free Huntsville: Cutting out idling is the easiest way to cut your fuel bill and reduce Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The transport sector is Muskoka’s largest polluter, pumping out almost 75% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. But everyday drivers can make a difference.

In Muskoka, based on the 2018 GHG inventory, 74% of all GHG emissions in Muskoka are caused by tailpipe emissions of burning fossil fuels in vehicles.

Engine idling is when the car engine is running while the vehicle is stationary, such as at a red light.

The amount of time you let your car engine idle can have a significant impact on emissions and local air quality.

Excessive idling (idling for longer than five minutes) could increase this contribution further, particularly for trucks and buses. When you also consider how extensive idling may create pollution hot spots around schools, hospitals and playgrounds, this isn’t something to take lightly.

Town of Huntsville By-law #2023-27 prohibits idling over five (5) minute (unless exempted).

Idling is a waste of fuel and money, and while GHG emissions from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are unavoidable, emissions from idling vehicles are completely unnecessary and can be easily prevented...with the turn of a key.

Idling Impacts

  • Exposure to higher pollution levels around schools
  • Neighborhood noise complaints
  • Health impacts due to poor air quality
  • Unnecessary Carbon Dioxide emissions
  • Higher day-to-day cost of living


Some idling is unavoidable such as waiting for a traffic light or driving in congested conditions, but other idling is unnecessary, such as while parked.

Drivers simply have to turn their engines off while parked. You can still have a hands-free conversation using Bluetooth or charge your phone when the car is in accessory mode.

Crack open a window to maintain comfortable conditions, rather than switching on the air conditioner.

Use a block heater to keep the engine warm in cold weather. Warm up your car simply by driving.

Avoid using a remote car starter. These devices encourage you to start your vehicle before you are ready to leave, which means unnecessary idling.

When many cars are idling in the same location, it can create poor local air quality. Turn off your engine when dropping off kids at or waiting for them outside the school.

Avoid the Drive-thru and take advantage of ordering ahead.

Buy a fuel efficient vehicle or consider an eligible electric vehicle (EV).  

Where possible use active transportation (bike, walk and roll) or take public transit.

For more information visit Natural Resources Canada's Idle-Free Zone website.

Fleet Vehicles

Commercial vehicles can idle for long periods of time. Fleet operators and logistics companies are therefore in a good position to roll out idle reduction initiatives and save on operating (fuel) costs while reducing emissions. What can my company do?

Adopt Idling Reduction Policies for fleets with larger diesel engines is possible. A good idling control policy should educate operators on the economic, social and environmental costs of unnecessary idling of diesel engines.

Diesel engines may have different requirements than gasoline engines, but unnecessary idling still pollutes the air, wastes fuel, and causes excess engine wear.

Check out Natural Resources Canada SmartDriver training series and FLEETSMART Idling Gets You Nowhere.

What the Town of Huntsville is doing?

The town is actively working to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions locally.

The municipality is also looking at how to reduce emissions within its fleet, be it transit or rightsizing  staff vehicles to the job.

  • Huntsville’s Climate is changing and will continue to change until heat trapping greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere start to decline (see Muskoka Greenhouse Gas Initiative).
  • The Town of Huntsville is part of the District of Muskoka’s Climate Change Mitigation Taskforce (CCMT) and is working on a strategy for the implementation of a Community GHG reduction plan.

5 Ways You Can Take Action on Climate Change

  1. Take the bus and other forms of public transit when you can for traveling long distances.
  2. Reduce car trips by using active transportation (walking, cycling and rolling) for traveling short distances.
  3. Be mindful of how the food you buy is packaged and transported and try to eat foods that are local and in-season (a local project uses an indoor hydroponic modular farm with climate control technology to produce food year-round).
  4. Start a type of garden with native species of plants, trees, and shrubs (pollinator garden, vegetable garden, rain garden, shade garden).
  5. Take time to learn about and appreciate nature and respect and acknowledge the land and wildlife where you live.
  • Climate change is a risk multiplier. From flooding to heat waves, winter storms to drought and wildfires, it poses increased risks to communities.

  • In 2023 Council adopted the Regional Climate Change and Adaptation Plan (ReCAP), which contains 30 recommendations that form the framework to help build resiliency to climatic changes, such as extreme weather and floods.



As a municipality, the Town of Huntsville is committed to reducing our climate change impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) related to municipal operations including buildings, vehicles and waste.


In 2022, the District of Muskoka installed and commissioned a 3-acre solar farm at the Golden Pheasant WTP. It is expected to cover 5% of the District’s total energy use through a net metering approach (see Golden Pheasant Solar Generation Net Metering Project for further details).


Home Energy Retrofits

In 2021, Clean Air Partnership received $175,000 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund (GMF) for a feasibility study to develop locally-tailored home energy retrofit financing programs in partnership with the County of Dufferin, the City of London, the City of Barrie and the Town of Huntsville (see Town of Huntsville Market Analysis and Program Design Report)


Energy Reporting

In February of 2023, the Provincial Government introduced Ontario Regulation 25/23 (O.Reg. 25/23) – which supersedes the previous O.Reg. 397/11 and O.Reg.507/18 under the Electricity Act, 1998.

This regulation requires certain public agencies – Municipalities, Municipal Service Boards, School Boards, Post-Secondary Educational Institutions, and Hospitals – to report on their energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. This also mandates that public agencies develop, and update every five (5) years, an Energy Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) Plan.  

The intent of this regulation is to help the broader public sector (BPS) organizations better understand and report their energy consumption, help benchmark, encourage energy conservation and demand management activities within their organizations, and then ultimately make this information available to its public. (See Town of Huntsville Updated Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan).

In 2020, the District landfilled over 32,000 tonnes of garbage with the average person in Muskoka throwing out approximately 344 kilograms of waste.

The Town of Huntsville recognizes it has a unique role to play in accelerating the transition to a circular economy from a linear economy.

In a circular economy, products and packaging are designed to minimize waste and then be recovered, reused, recycled and reintegrated back into production. There is no longer the line: produce, consume and then throw it away (see District of Muskoka Recycling).

Single-Use Plastics
  • Plastics are mostly single use items; therefore they benefit a linear based economy. Single use plastics are used in convenience items such as straws, stirrers, cups, bottles, food containers, bags, etc. and, as the name implies, are typically used once and then discarded.
  • Microplastics are small but harmful plastic particles that come from the breakdown of plastic materials and can damage Muskoka’s lakes, rivers, fish and wildlife.
  • The federal government has banned some hard-to-recycle plastics, as part of its goal to reach zero plastic waste by 2030.
  • The first phase of the ban has already come into effect, prohibiting the manufacture and import for sale of six single-use plastics. This includes checkout bags, cutlery, food service ware made from, or containing, problematic plastics that are hard to recycle, stir sticks, and straws, with the exception to accommodate people who need them. (see Fact sheet: Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations).
Organic Waste Diversion
Recycling Electronics and Batteries
  • Keep electronic waste, batteries, and their unsafe chemicals out of the landfill by recycling them instead.
  • Drop your dead batteries off at the: Canada Summit Centre, Algonquin Theatre, Civic Centre and Huntsville Public Library (See also Battery Recycling Locations and District of Muskoka Electronic Waste Drop-Off).


Dark Friendly Sky
The Town of Huntsville encourages all residents to minimize light pollution in and around the municipality. In 2016, Council passed an Outdoor Lighting Bylaw.
Healthy Natural Environments
  • Trees provide a number of services for communities including habitat for species, increasing biodiversity, sequestering carbon dioxide, retaining water and providing shade. 
  • The Town of Huntsville has a municipal tree policy to help preserve the urban tree canopy.
  • The Town of Huntsville Community Planning Permit By-law contains study requirements and a list of conditions of approval or provisional approval that may be required including: A tree inventory and preservation plan including identification of trees on the site 5 years prior to the application and a plan for the identification, protection, maintenance and enhancement of existing trees and other vegetation, including the restoration or replacement of vegetation where removed. 
  • The Town of Huntsville discourages feeding wildlife like deer or leaving food out that bears and other animals like raccoons can get into, as they can become food conditioned and habituated (see Feeding wildlife: dos and don’ts and Be Bear Wise).
Natural Shorelines

The Natural Edge Program and the Love Your Lake Program offered by the Muskoka Watershed Council, is for waterfront property owners hoping to re-naturalize their shoreline assesses the health of their lake.


Invading Invasives
  • There are several invasive species that are threatening Muskoka’s biodiversity, including phragmites, Japanese knotweed and spiny water flea.  Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, established Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP) to address the increasing threats posed by invading species in Ontario.
  • Remember to Clean, Drain, Dry - Aquatic invasive plants, animals, and diseases can spread through water-based recreation when they cling to watercrafts and gear.
Why It’s Time to go on a Low (Road) Salt Diet

Road salt effective at keeping roads free of snow and ice, but it also has damaging consequences. As snow and ice melt on roads, the salt washes into soil, lakes and streams, in some cases contaminating drinking water reservoirs and wells.

With climate change comes more frequent freeze-thaw cycles and more lake effect snow, which means people will apply more road salt due to more dangerous driving conditions.

The Town of Huntsville currently uses a minimal amount of salt (3-5%), due to the classification of its roads. The type of material used, and application techniques are based on factors like temperature, weather conditions, traffic volumes and speed limits.

The Facts

  • The Town of Huntsville deploys sand and salt as a go-to solution for keeping winter roads and sidewalks clear.
  • The Town is responsible for maintaining all municipal roads in Huntsville except for District roads and Highways which MTO oversees.
  • Town of Huntsville Roads operations must maintain 418 km of roadway over a geographical area of 711 square kilometers.
  • Winter sanding is the alternative to salting on rural and residential roads or used alongside salting. Sand provides traction control.
  • Salt is used when the temperature is above -12 C. Below this, sand is used because salt is ineffective.
  • Damage due to salt spray is usually short-term, the browning of trees is often noticeable on the east side of Highway 11 during early spring. By summer, these trees have usually recovered and have new green growth.

Reasons to Limit Salt Use

  • Damages infrastructure causing corrosion of concrete, wood and metal.
  • Damages aquatic ecosystems in local lakes and streams.
  • Increases sodium and chloride levels in our drinking water sources (see Sodium in Drinking Water).
  • Causes irritation and damage to pets and wildlife.
  • Long-term pollution from legacy salt stores in soil and groundwater requiring costly remediation.


Addressing accelerating salinization of lakes requires new thinking and innovative solutions that recognize the complexity of the issue.

  • It’s imperative that research, investment and public awareness converge to address this challenge holistically.
  • To mitigate the impacts of salinization, evidence-based approaches are urgently required.
  • Solutions and policy recommendations must promote the reduction of salt runoff from road salt applications and other sources. Brine for example is still a salt solution, consisting of granular salt dissolved in water, but it sticks to roads better and has a more direct impact where it is needed, which means less is required.
  • Establish effective and comprehensive monitoring programs.

What Can You Do?

So, what are some of the best ways to reduce your salt use while maintaining safety?

  • Shovel first to remove as much snow and ice before applying salt.
  • A little salt goes a long way. You only need to spread about a tablespoon or two of salt for a one-meter square area – the size of a sidewalk slab. Use a smaller grain-size, evenly spread on icy areas only, and give it time to work before clearing.
  • Only use road salt when conditions are appropriate; road salt does not work when the temperature is below -10 °C.
  • Redirect your downspouts away from walkways and driveways.
  • Pile Snow in a lower area close to a storm sewer.
  • Limit drifting snow by using snow fences or landscaping.
  • Wear proper winter footwear designed for snow and ice.
  • Use a traction aid like sand on your walkway to increase traction.
  • Having snow tires on your vehicle and driving at a slower speed will increase traction, lower your chances of winter accidents, and save you money through lower insurance premiums.

Things to Consider When Hiring Winter Maintenance Contractors

  • Hire a contractor that is Smart About Salt certified.
  • Ensure payment is based on the number of snow fall events or per season and not tied to salt usage.
  • Require a salt management plan.
Biting Insect Prevention

The Town reminds residents that many parks have planned naturalized areas intentionally left to grow wild. Please, keep to pathways to enjoy non-wild walks and avoid ticks. (see Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Lyme Disease and Ticks).

Practice the 4 Ds for reducing mosquito risks (see Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit West Nile Virus):

  1. Drain your property of unwanted standing water

  2. Dusk/dawn: take extra care at these times

  3. Dress appropriately: wear light-coloured, loose fitting clothing with long sleeves

  4. Defend against mosquito bites by using mosquito repellents