A councillor hopes Saanich’s declaration of a climate emergency will mean more than just words.
“We all need to get on common ground so that we can get on with common action,” said Coun. Nathalie Chambers. “In the staff report, it would be really nice if we could articulate actions, so it [the declaration] isn’t merely lip-service, and that we all understand the steps that we are going forward with.”
She made these comments as Saanich council supported a motion the board of the Capital Regional District (CRD) had passed last month. It declared a climate emergency and called on the CRD to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
The CRD has also asked member municipalities and electoral areas to pass individual motions in support.
Monday’s unanimous vote closes a circle for Coun. Ned Taylor, who had first raised the issue with the CRD in January, along with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.
“Climate change is without one of the most pressing issues facing our world today, and Saanich has been what I consider to be a leader in addressing climate change and working towards reducing emissions,” said Taylor Monday. “What that said, I still think we can do more, and this is an opportunity for the entire region to actually work together and collaborate to combat climate change.”
He acknowledged that the existence of 13 separate municipalities and the CRD might make it difficult to coordinate efforts. “But this is an opportunity to say that climate change … is an emergency and that we should be working together as a region.”
Coun. Rebecca Mersereau agreed, noting the contributions of municipalities to greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. “There are levers that we can use to show leadership on this file, and I see this as a good way to challenge ourselves to do that,” she said.
Staff will bring forward a report with specific initiatives following an amendment by Coun. Judy Brownoff.
Whether Saanich can achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 remains outstanding.
Pointing to Saanich’s own statistics, observers such as former councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff have said municipality needs to do more when it comes to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).