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RDCK Climate Action Plan to be revised

The District of Central Kootenay’s controversial draft Climate Action Plan is now going through a process of revision.

Any future drafts of the Climate Action Plan will be “clear and direct” and will “prioritize shared values,” states a report by RDCK Sustainability Planner Paris Marshall Smith and Community Resilience Coordinator Dauna Ditson.

The RDCK board has received the results from five months of public engagement on the plan, and participated in a workshop on January 24 to understand the feedback. At the board meeting of February 15, directors agreed to a revision process for the plan as recommended by staff.

The revision process starts with a survey of individual directors. This gives directors a chance to incorporate the public feedback into their survey responses. Then, in light of the feedback from the public and the directors, staff will identify different possible versions of the plan and present them to the board for direction on which to pursue.

Results from the director survey should be available at the March regular board meeting, or April’s at the latest.

Engagement results

The engagement process findings, along with the materials from the January 24 board workshop, were included in the agenda package for the February 15 RDCK board meeting.

The RDCK received 3,618 individual comments from residents throughout the engagement process, which ran from April to October last year and included open houses, community ambassador outreach events, surveys, webinars, emails, and informal conversations.

Of the residents who engaged in the public consultation, 30% had high support for the plan’s actions, 19% had low support, and 51% were mixed – meaning they were split between support and opposition, or unsure and in need of clarification.

Eighteen key themes emerged from the feedback, and all 3,618 comments received were coded according to theme, as well as to the corresponding action listed in the plan, where applicable. The staff report also lists residents’ comments on topics that are outside the scope of the plan, such as chem trails, geoengineering, 5G, 15-minute cities, population control, World Economic Forum and United Nations control, and climate science.

“While the above concerns are outside the scope of the RDCK Climate Action Plan, feedback received through the engagement process recommended that future RDCK climate action address the following: right to choose, clear and direct communication, looking for local solutions, need for increased resilience, interest to work together, and shared values,” the staff report states.

Regulated vs. non-regulated actions

The report also points out that there are 99 actions listed in the draft plan. Twenty-seven of these are required by law by other levels of government. Of the remaining 41 that are not regulated, 31 are not currently in the RDCK workplan. These 31 would be easiest to change or remove, the report notes.

RDCK Chair Aimee Watson commented, “I feel like all of our services have been addressing [climate change] before we even put the plan in front of us. Wildfire mitigation has been what we've been doing for a decade and a half. We were leaders in the province on that front…. This plan was really put together to collate all the things we're doing, plus the regulatory things we have to do because they’re related to climate change, and then the things we could do.”

Some residents interpreted the plan as a list of mandatory changes that the RDCK was demanding of them, but Watson explained that plan was not aimed at imposing new regulations. The ‘new’ items – such as retrofits and electric vehicles – are optional, unless regulated by another order of government.

At the February board meeting, the board considered the possibility of focusing on regulated actions in the plan.

“I like the idea of providing [a plan],” said Chair Watson, “but all the optional things – like the Farmer Innovation, Briggs [Creek Fire] stability – all those things can happen regardless of if they’re named in a plan.”

Energy, time, and resources could be better spent on the Emergency Disaster and Management Act, or on land use planning processes, Watson said, since those are mandatory.

“We know we’re making decisions based on the climate and based on resiliency,” said Maria McFaddin, director for the City of Castlegar. “We don’t need a plan to tell us this.”

Rachael Lesosky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice