Members of the West Kootenay Climate Hub presented a petition they initiated in support of the RDCK’s controversial draft climate plan at the October 19 RDCK board meeting.
Judy O’Leary from Nelson, Marianne Hobden from Area D, Elizabeth Quinn from Creston and Laura Sacks from Area I shared the petition that, as of that day, had garnered 921 signatures.
“I love this beautiful area and I want to show you how most of your constituents support the work you’re doing,” said O’Leary.
West Kootenay Climate Hub is a volunteer-run organization. To gather support for the RDCK’s climate action plan, the group has done outreach at locations all over the RDCK, from senior centres to Selkirk College. They have even gone door to door.
“The vast majority of people we spoke to supported the plan once they learned more about it,” said Sacks. “We heard from a lot of people concerned about wildfires, smoke, and heat.”
During their presentation, Climate Hub members shared some examples of climate solutions already in place in the region, like bike paths, energy-efficient social housing, electric school buses, and solar panels on schools and businesses.
Despite the positives, the RDCK’s climate action plan has been hotly contested by many members of the public.
“It has been the target of an attack by a small and vocal minority who do not want to see local climate action proceed,” said O’Leary. “We started this petition because we feel that this is a moderate and sensible plan that will start to move us forward in keeping our communities safe from climate impacts, while reducing our own climate pollution.”
“We can’t expect to achieve unanimity on these issues,” said Hobden, “but there is clearly broad support for this plan.”
During public time, several community members with concerns about the plan spoke out.
“Clearly the RDCK will not save the world,” said one individual. “Neither will environmental climate law by confining residents to riding bicycles.”
Another individual echoed this concern, worrying that citizens are being asked to bear the brunt of climate change when industry is a large cause.
RDCK Board Chair Aimee Watson assured the public that this is not lost on her and the board, and that climate change is not solely a local issue – it’s bigger than that.
“But local government also can play a role and that’s the climate change plan,” she said. “That’s where it came from. All the things we can do locally [for the bigger picture].”
Public consultation on this round of engagement on the draft RDCK plan closed at the end of October, but members of the public are welcome to email any of the board directors anytime to share their input. The Climate Hub petition closed October 30.
West Kootenay Climate Hub, Valley Voice