Motion calls on Rossland city council to recognize ‘climate crisis’

Andy Morel wants to raise awareness of urgent need for action by higher levels of government

Andy Morel hopes his motion will help spur higher levels of government to take stronger action to combat climate change. File photo

Rossland city council is sending a message to higher levels of government about climate change.

Andy Morel introduced a “climate action imperative resolution” at Wednesday’s council meeting, calling on the city to recognize the “urgent reality” of human impact on the environment.

The motion, which was approved, states “that Rossland city council recognizes the world is in a global state of climate crisis.

“This reality creates an imperative for all orders of government to undertake ‘rapid and far reaching’ changes to building construction, energy systems, land use and transportation,” the motion continues.

Morel says he thought it was time for municipal governments to make a statement about climate.

“It’s kind of a political resolution,” says Morel about his motion. “We’re trying to make the point that there’s a lot of urgency to deal with this situation.”

Morel says municipal government’s ability to make a difference is limited, with its jurisdictions and resources, but it can call on higher levels of government to act.

“We’re trying to push the ball forward, so that provinces and feds are standing up and listening to what people are saying at the municipal level,” he says. “Because we are the closest connection to voters.

“The idea is to send a message from the municipalities and our voters up the ladder, and hopefully that impact will make a difference to folks who are in leadership roles and are in positions to make impactful change.”

Morel says he’s heard a lot from friends and young families in Rossland concerned about climate change, and he’s going to be a grandfather himself this summer, so he’s worried about the next generation.

He says doesn’t want to be alarmist with his motion, but it’s time to act.

“We’re in a crisis situation. And if you look at British Columbia as a whole, we’re spending tens of millions of dollars on wildfire mitigation. We’re ramping up our budgets for that provincially because the risk is so great. So we need to start making some serious policy changes at all levels of government to really start to ease our CO2 emissions, to come up with something to make a difference.

“So far it’s just been basically pandering to large corporate interests.”

The motion also calls on staff to report back to council within 150 days on opportunities “to build on work already being undertaken by the RDCK, to increase and/or accelerate timelines for existing actions under [provincial sustainability and climate change programs], and to create a unified document highlighting this work.”

“We only have so much jurisdiction we are responsible for and can impact directly,” he says. “When it comes to things like building construction and our Official Community Plan, our ability to influence is available.”

Council has committed to reviewing its Official Community Plan this year, notes Morel, and it’s an opportunity for Rossland to be more mindful of climate change when considering things like density, transportation, building codes, electric vehicle infrastructure and other issues.

“From a practical standpoint, I don’t see a whole lot coming from a resolution like this,” says Morel. “But from a policy and wanting to get more pressure put on higher levels of government to make change [standpoint], it’s critical.

“It’s people pushing policy, and at least from my perspective it’s at the municipal level where the most impact is felt, and the most influence can come. So I’d like to see us be as progressive as we can to move things forward.”

CLIMATE MOTION

Here’s the wording of a motion by Rossland city councillor Andy Morel:

1. WHEREAS

a. Climate change is recognized to be an urgent reality requiring rapid decarbonization of energy across all sectors;

b. Climate change is recognized to be an urgent reality where risks are compounded by increased climate change weather related events (more precipitation in the winter, dryer hotter summers) and increased levels of uncertainty. Preparing for increased resilience and adaptability is critical;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED

THAT Rossland city council directs staff to report back within 150 days on opportunities to build on work already being undertaken by RDCK, to increase and/or accelerate timelines for existing actions under the ICSP and the SCEEP, and to create a unified document highlighting this work.

2. WHEREAS

a. Climate change is recognized to be an urgent reality requiring rapid decarbonization of energy across all sectors;

b. Climate change is recognized to be an urgent reality where risks are compounded by increased climate change weather related events (more precipitation in the winter, dryer hotter summers) and increased levels of uncertainty. Preparing for increased resilience and adaptability is critical;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED

THAT Rossland city council recognizes that the world is in a global state of climate crisis. This reality creates an imperative for all orders of government to undertake “rapid and far reaching” changes to building construction, energy systems, land use and transportation.

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