Climate change isn’t just a global emergency — it’s also a paid position at city hall.
Nelson is in the process of hiring a climate change co-ordinator after receiving a $125,000 grant this month from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Natalie Andrijancic, a senior planner at city hall, said the person hired will work with other staff to reduce Nelson’s greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen areas vulnerable to climate change impacts.
“Lots of people are doing great work in their communities, but lots of people are also doing work off the side of their desk,” she said.
“Having a dedicated climate change person within the city would make a huge impact in the direction that we’re going.”
Andrijancic said staff are considering applications now and hope to have the position finalized by July.
The hiring comes after city council declined to declare a climate emergency in March.
While city initiatives such as FireSmart property assessments or the Water Master Plan already exist, Mayor John Dooley said the hiring will make future planning a priority.
“It’s helping us drive that agenda a little harder than we have in the past and see if there’s some other opportunities we haven’t recognized as a municipality,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot, but maybe there’s more that can be done.”
The job position may sound unique, but FCM also handed out similar grants to municipalities including Whistler, Revelstoke, Quesnel and Kitimat as well as three communities in Nova Scotia and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Andrijancic said larger municipalities have entire departments focused on climate change, but having even one person at Nelson City Hall will be a luxury.
“FCM and the federal government are realizing that smaller communities don’t have the funding necessarily to have a dedicated person working on climate change.”