-Photo credit: Sooke Fire, of Mt Manual Quimper fire, 2017
Before the warning was issued that Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as global average, and before SPN ran a spoof April Fools article grounded in very real climate change concerns (Sooke considers drastic fire prevention strategies including tree cull), Councillor St-Pierre introduced a motion at the March 25 regular Council meeting, proposing to declare a climate emergency. It was seconded by Councillor Bateman.
Counc. St-Pierre noted that Sooke would not be the first to make such a declaration, that other governments like the Highlands have already declared a climate emergency. Indeed, Kingston, Halifax and Vancouver are among other Canadian municipalities that have issued similar statements. Internationally, cities like London and Los Angeles have also issued similar statements.
This Climate Emergency statement would be a statement recognizing a problem, said Counc. St-Pierre, adding that for 20 to 30 years, everyone has been waiting for someone else to do something.
We need to admit that we know we need to do something, he argued.
There was some hesitancy from the other elected officials, on two fronts. First, some found the declaration to be vague, lacking concrete and actionable steps. Second, they indicated that they would like more time to consider such a motion.
Mayor Maja Tait noted that she doesn’t yet know what they are dealing with yet. She would like more specifics.
“When you declare an emergency, it’s a call to action,” said Tait. She acknowledged the general complacency that seemed to be the travel companion of climate change. Ultimately, Mayor Tait wanted more specifics, like what it would means specifically to Sooke. Procedurally, the mayor also noted that this type of motion should come as a notice of motion, where a councillor can give notice of motion they wish to make, which would then be debated at the next regular meeting.
Other Councillors echoed the need for something concrete, for actionable items. Counc. McMath noted she would give approval in principle, but she echoes the mayor’s sentiment that she would need more information for specifics. Beddows backed McMath and Tait, adding that it was skinny on details of what could be done.
Counc. Bateman, who seconded the motion, observed his own earlier struggle with approving a Tim Hortons drive-through in the era of climate change, and drew attention to this irony.
Counc. Logins suggested this motion be postponed to next meeting, giving the public an opportunity to provide input. All agreed to continue consideration for this declaration at the next meeting, which is scheduled for April 8, 2019, starting at 7:00 p.m.
As Logins mentioned, there is an opportunity for the public to give their input on any agenda item, near the beginning of every meeting, with a two minute limit per speaker. If you believe a climate emergency should be declared, or if you oppose this, your opportunity to speak directly to the decision makers is coming up!
Elected officials present at the March 25 meeting: Mayor Maja Tait, and Councillors Jeff Bateman, Al Beddows, Ebony Logins, Megan McMath,
Brenda Parkinson, Tony St-Pierre
Also discussed at the March 25 Regular Council Meeting: