Former councillor to lead St. Mary’s climate change plan

·2 min read

ST. MARY’S – Former St. Mary’s Councillor Kaytland Smith is taking on a 15-week assignment this summer, helping the district formulate its first climate change preparedness plan in more than a decade.

“We have one that dates back to 2003, but it’s time we update it,” said Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald.

Smith – who did not reoffer for the District 3/5 councillor (Melrose, Glenelg, Caledonia and Area) in the 2020 municipal election last October, and is entering her second year of studies in the Public Policy and Governance program at StFX – will work under the auspices of the Clean Leadership Summer Internship Program of the Clean Foundation Nova Scotia.

In a presentation to the council’s committee of the whole last week, she said her work will involve a series of stages culminating in “a living document that should fit what is happening within the environment and the municipality at [any given] time.”

The first phase, she said, would compile baseline information, including greenhouse gas emission levels, climate change risk areas, and an inventory of municipally owned infrastructure and properties.

“A goal will be to consider and tie in a strong correlation between current municipal plans, like the strategic plan, to create continuity across our municipal structure.”

Subsequent phases will set priorities, implement specific programs and monitor, evaluate and adapt, as necessary. “I plan on using resiliency as a big part of my plan of development,” she said. “Resiliency is often explained as the ability to withstand or bounce back; or the [definition] I prefer is [the ability] to adapt and bounce forward.”

She added: “An example of this would be last fall’s hurricane Dorian, where we had a large-scale event. You would have a debrief on how the event went and what could be done better. Part of that debrief would include something like what the effects of climate change were, and how we can include this in our resiliency plan moving forward.”

Smith noted a committee composed of young people, business owners and community organizations will guide the process in the coming weeks. “We’ve put a focus on members who have climate-change history or community-resilience input that they can offer,” she said. “We’ve also requested one or two council members.”

The Clean Foundation’s internship is one of several programs available both to private and public sector organizations “committed to supporting Canadians in the transition to a clean economy.”

MacDonald said the municipality saw an opportunity. “We put in to have our climate change action plan updated. Kaytland was interviewed, and she got the job. She is actually working for Clean Nova Scotia. But, at the end of the day, the report will be ours to use,” adding: “It’s actually a requirement to qualify for federal infrastructure funding.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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