The City of Penticton will likely hear the case for declaring a climate emergency in the new year, following a presentation during Tuesday’s meeting that gave an overview of how the city can fight climate change.
Nicolas Stulberg, a Penticton resident and member of the newly appointed Sustainability Committee, presented during the Nov. 19 committee of the whole on why the city should declare a climate emergency and which communities in the province have already done so.
“As a city in British Columbia, Penticton can address climate change using its unique authority as defined in the Community Charter and the Local Government Act. Some examples along with passing a motion to declare a climate emergency would be simple things like passing a motion for anti-idling bylaws,” said Stulberg. “Or coordinating grants or programs that support the use of electric vehicles.”
Stulberg explained that there is no specific criteria that must be included in a climate emergency declaration, rather “it is up to each individual council to make up its mind about what it wants to suggest and implement.” Examples include “revamping council and city operations,” endorsing education programs encouraging the local community to follow suit and “lobbying to encourage provincial government to declare a climate emergency.”
According to his report to council, 1,185 jurisdictions worldwide – including 468 in Canada – have declared climate emergencies, as well as 23 countries. Canada is one of dozens of countries to make a national declaration about the climate emergency.
“Councils are the key to local action. With the failure of larger governing bodies to respond effectively to global warming, city council can play a leading response role by: setting safe climate goals and targets; implementing local programs; lobbying provincial and federal governments; and encouraging other councils to do the same,” said Stulberg.
Stulberg also launched an online petition to Penticton city council to declare a climate emergency, which currently has over 400 signatures.
“I think this is something that city council should consider in the future. What I would like to see is this as one of the first tasks run by the new Sustainability Committee and to get their feedback on it as well,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield. “I think that a declaration is fine, it’s good that it shows intent, but it also should have some goals. Without goals, it can be just shelved where it collects dust amongst other declarations.”
Other members on council echoed Bloomfield’s remarks and they voted unanimously to direct the Sustainability Committee to look at the possibility of declaring a climate emergency when it begins meeting in the new year.
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