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Split Penticton council asks feds to spend $1B on Youth Climate Corps

Dollars figures attached to notice of motion ‘ludicrous’: Coun. Amelia Boultbee
Penticton City Hall. (Western News - File)

The federal government could soon receive a letter from Penticton council that urges them to set aside $1 billion in the next budget to establish a Youth Climate Corps.

City council voted 4-3 on Tuesday, April 16, to send climate-related letters to the federal and provincial governments.

The endorsement came after a motion from Coun. Isaac Gilbert, whose notice also “urged” the B.C. government to set aside $200 million for a provincial Youth Climate Corps, a program that “builds on youth leadership for a low-carbon future.”

Gilbert was joined by Mayor Julius Bloomfield, as well as councillors Campbell Watt and Ryan Graham in voting in favour of the motion.

Councillors Helena Konanz, James Miller and Amelia Boultbee were opposed.

“With our federal and provincial governments having such huge deficits, that affects all of us and affects our youth, because they are the ones that are going to have to pay for this in the future,” said Coun. Helena Konanz. “I just can’t support a letter going to request this.”

Boultbee doubled down and called the dollar figures attached to the motion “ludicrous.”

Gilbert said he got the $1 billion and $200 million figures from the Climate Emergency Unit, a project of the David Suzuki Institute.

“The federal government would probably have a different opinion on the dollar amount that would be spent on it, but I will leave that up to the powers that be,” the mayor said. “I have no problem in endorsing a call for the Youth Climate Corps.”

A group called Youth Climate Corps BC already exists, Miller pointed out.

According to its website, the organization provides paid work and training “to young people in climate action projects that impact their communities.” People aged 17 to 30 work together for four to six months at a time to scale up climate action projects, it adds.

Gilbert said he’d want the B.C. government to fund the program and help participants transition into trades jobs, like construction, and to work into the power and energy sector.

“I think it’s really good to give youth this opportunity in this country and province space to fight climate change but also to prepare them for the workforce,” Gilbert said.

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About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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