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RDCK Climate Action Plan will have more public consultation

Directors voted to delay a vote until August
Regional District of Central Kootenay vice chair Diana Lockwood (left) and chair Aimee Watson. Photo: RDCK

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

It was standing room only at the Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors meeting April 20, as dozens of residents came to express their concerns about – or support for – a regional government plan to address climate change.

About 30 people packed the chambers and another 20 attended the meeting online as the board debated whether to adopt its recently completed Climate Action Plan.

In the end, a motion to delay consideration of adoption of the plan to June was amended to August, to allow for more consultation.

The plan is a series of almost 100 recommendations guiding regional district staff in moving towards policies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as building community resiliency to climate change. It includes things like encouraging active transportation planning, forest fire mitigation, improving electrical grids, supporting local farming and food security groups, composting, and protecting watersheds, among other measures.

The plan contains no new tax increases or bylaw changes, but rather is “a guidance document, not a regulatory document, and the intention of the plan is to provide staff with direction to engage with [the community] on key areas where we don’t have solutions…,” said sustainability planner Paris Marshall Smith.

The action plan is the product of several years of meetings and community consultation with various stakeholders, and was due to be adopted by the board at the April meeting.

But after two poorly advertised and attended public consultation meetings in March, concern started to grow among some residents about the plan. At least one petition began circulating calling on the regional district to hold more public consultation meetings, and residents came to the monthly board meeting to push for a delay.

Board vice-chair Diane Lockwood thanked the public for coming to hear the debate, and asked people to be constructive when offering feedback on the plan.

“They can write down, not just that they don’t like it, but what they actually want to see or what they wouldn’t like to see. It would be really helpful for all of us directors who hear this kind of thing…,” she said. “We’re elected because of you, we want to hear from you, and that’s how we work.”

It will be up to local area directors to work with staff to settle the time and place for meetings in their local areas. The issue hasn’t generated a lot of controversy for some directors, while others like Area H’s Walter Popoff said he was going to request up to six meetings for the public to discuss the action plan.

READ MORE: RDCK director pushes back against petition opposed to Climate Action Plan