Eashan Karnik is a graduate from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science. While his degree was in Neuropsychology, his career in working for the legislative protection and ecological enhancement of Canada’s lands and waters has spanned almost a decade. Eashan’s extensive work for sustainable development in Mississauga has led to him being selected by the City Council, and Canada’s Minister of Heritage as the Community Leader for Mississauga in Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations. Eashan currently spends his days working on CitySolar, a green energy subsidization program that he hopes will allow all of Mississauga to progress, along with Canada, towards a clean and green future.
Q: Do you have any updates on what you’ve been up to with CitySolar?
CitySolar has been doing really well, the Summit actually gave us a lot of traction to move forward. Over the last three or four months we have been working on putting together a deputation and presenting it to Mississauga City Councillors and the Mayor. We are hoping to receive feedback on whether there could be a collaboration with the city or if the city could use some funds from the Climate Action Plan that it’s been working on for initiatives like this. Seeing as I have been a member of the Environmental Action Committee of Mississauga, which is a committee that deals with deputations and project proposals, I could not make a deputation myself. As my term has just ended, we are hopefully going to present our deputation in September. In that deputation we will gather a lot of information on exactly what would be the next steps in regards to how the city could implement CitySolar because we do want to work with the City of Mississauga before reaching out to other places. Although we have spent the past two months doing a lot of research and communicating with other organisations that work in solar instalments, our focus has been this deputation - we feel a lot is riding on it. I am definitely excited to see what happens after the deputation and to hear back from all of the groups that we have communicated to.
Q: What have been some of the challenges or obstacles you have been facing?
I guess the challenges and obstacles are one thing: time. I work with the Ministry of Environment full time, and after I received a full time job offer it’s been hard to make it into a full time project especially when our organisation and our proposed business plan indicates that it’s going to take a few years before City Solar starts returning investment. Being able to invest the time and effort into meeting with different people and meeting with groups has definitely been a challenge. The other challenge is that we would like to have a bit more public awareness surrounding solar energy, especially given that a lot of people are apprehensive of green energy and green energy costs due to the current energy crisis in Ontario. Another big challenge for us has been having credibility given that City Solar requires a lot of capital cost, which is why we’re hoping that the City can be a source for capital to get this project off the ground.
Q: Tell us about your personal achievements in the last couple months.
I received the 2017 Civic Award of Recognition from Mayor Crombie which had a lot to do with the environmental policy that I worked while sitting on the Environmental Action Committee as well as with CitySolar. Even though the project is still in its planning and implementation stage, I was noted for spreading awareness of the project and awareness of green energy. Receiving this award is definitely something I’m very proud of. CitySolar and I were featured in an article in the University of Toronto Mississauga Magazine, which was in relation to our attendance at the UN Youth Assembly back in February. It was a great experience, and it was great to have CitySolar in print, talking about what the initiative is and how we plan to move forward with it. Finally, I’m starting law school in Ottawa in September, which is going to be a big change but it’s something I’m very much looking forward to.
Q: What motivates you to keep moving forward with City Solar?
The drive for me is definitely very simple: I feel there’s a change that’s easily within reach but not many people are reaching for it. Every day we hear about different technologies regarding solar energy, we hear about solar jobs being implemented on a daily basis, we hear about how booming the industry is but we don’t really see any of that impact in our communities. We don’t see solar instalments everywhere we go, which is something I believe should happen. I feel that the years of research and the years of planning and implementation are gone and now is the year of action. That’s my drive, I feel like it’s something that needs to be done and something that’s a very simple answer to a very difficult question. We should definitely start with solar energy and to have it implemented in my home city is what drives me every day.
Find out more about Eashan’s experience in ACSE, First Edition by clicking here!Interviewers: ACSE team