Mayor’s Office

Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger

Mayor Miro Weinberger

October 2019

The fall means a flurry of activity in City government and throughout Burlington. This month, I’m thinking about how we as a city can respond to our climate crisis, the Trump Administration’s ongoing assault on America’s refugee resettlement program, and the groundbreaking of an exciting and much-needed project to create affordable homes for seniors.

Getting to Net Zero Energy

I know that many of you believe, as I do, that we are in a climate emergency, and at the same time that it is tough to know how to respond meaningfully to a problem of this scale. In September, the City released a “Roadmap” that shows us where we can start, and outlines what we need to do in order to achieve what is the most ambitious local climate goal that we know of in the country: To become a Net Zero Energy city across the electric, thermal, and ground transportation sectors by 2030.

This report tells us what a largely decarbonized Burlington by 2030 would look like. To meet this goal, the Burlington of the future will be one where all of our buildings are energy efficient and use new electric heating technologies such a cold-climate heat pumps, where our land use and transportation policies help support less energy use, where nearly all vehicles are powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, and where we replace 15 percent of the miles we drive each year with forms of alternative transportation.

This is a big goal. But our community has accomplished big climate and energy goals before — and the Roadmap shows us that our Net Zero goal is achievable with technologies that are cost competitive today, and getting better and more affordable each year.

To get to Net Zero, though, will take all of us. My ask for all Burlingtonians is that, starting today, you consider efficiency and electrification every time you’re making a decision about your homes, businesses, and cars. In return, the City will work to make those choices as easy and affordable as possible. To that end, the Burlington Electric Department has released more than a dozen new initiatives to support the Net Zero goal, including significant incentives for heat pumps and electric vehicles. Learn more, and read the full Roadmap, at: burlingtonelectric.com/NZE.

Response to Trump Administration Slashing America’s Refugee Program

Over the summer, I was one of more than 380 elected officials from across the country who signed a letter to President Trump urging him to restore our refugee program to its historic strength. Instead, last week, he has slashed the program once again – from accepting 110,000 refugees in 2016, to 30,000 this year, to, now, 18,000 next year – continuing his assault on the legal immigration system that built this country, made America a beacon of hope in the world, and dramatically strengthened Burlington over the last three decades. The timing of this decision is devastating, coming at a moment of massive international suffering and upheaval.

The New Americans who have made Burlington their home, including those who have come through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, have made our community stronger. As our friends and colleagues, former refugees in Burlington have added their ideas, skills, and experiences to our City, benefited our economy, and broadened our collective view of the world. Yet, now, this added strength to our community is in decline: While we welcomed 386 people to Chittenden County through the refugee resettlement program in 2016, that number plummeted to just 115 people in 2019 as a result of Trump Administration policy. This latest cut will certainly reduce this number even further.

I will continue to call for change at the federal level and seek ways to ensure that former refugees and all other New Americans here in Burlington know that they are welcome and that we are glad to have them as our neighbors.

Breaking Ground at Juniper House

About a week ago, I huddled under a tent in the rain on what is, today, a large dirt lot along North Avenue, in order to celebrate what it will soon be: 70 new affordable homes for seniors in our community, complete with supportive services, as part of Cathedral Square’s “Juniper House” project. Every groundbreaking is an exciting moment of possibility, and this one, in particular, marks a project that meets many of our key needs as a city: Specifically designed for our growing numbers of older adults; serving a range of households including those that have previously experienced homelessness; creating more homes in a part of our city that has robust bus, bike, and pedestrian facilities; and more.

I am proud that the City has supported this project from the very beginning, including through our Housing Trust Fund. I also know that we have much more work to do to increase the availability and affordability of homes in Burlington. I encourage all Burlingtonians to learn more about steps we are taking to advance this urgent work. More information is available on the City website at: burlingtonvt.gov/BTV-Housing-Policy.

As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8-9am to share any thoughts or questions. You can also visit my Facebook page at facebook.com/MiroBTV/, or follow me on Twitter at @BTVMayor for information on the work of the Mayor’s Office and our City Departments. I look forward to seeing you soon.

Warmly,

Miro