A crowd of more than 150 people walked on Friday, Sept. 20 from the Ross Street Plaza, down Lakeshore, up to the highway and to city hall to gather to hear a number of speeches on climate action on Sept. 20, 2020. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

A crowd of more than 150 people walked on Friday, Sept. 20 from the Ross Street Plaza, down Lakeshore, up to the highway and to city hall to gather to hear a number of speeches on climate action on Sept. 20, 2020. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Non-profit urges movement on Salmon Arm’s climate action plan:

City politicians on board but the need for grants can slow process

Shuswap Climate Action would like the City of Salmon Arm to do more climate action planning immediately and would like to support the city in the endeavour.

Frederick Vroom and Wayne Spencer, two representatives of the local volunteer group, addressed city council’s Feb. 8 meeting, noting that in the wake of its 2019 climate emergency declaration, the city should take bold action on transportation and buildings. Actions would include a stronger push towards active transportation, the encouragement of energy efficiency programs for buildings, and protection and enhancement of green spaces and trees.

“Our group is really about trying to connect people and bringing people together around this problem, and to make people understand climate change requires a sustained effort as a group, as a society – which includes the municipality but also residents and businesses,” said Vroom.

He said the group would like to collect information on innovations being used across the country and share them with the city.

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The presenters acknowledged the city has had several successes, such as the March 2020 Community Energy and Emissions Plan report, but it is still missing a comprehensive climate plan.

Five suggestions were emphasized: 1) prioritize development of a climate action plan; 2) add a designated staff member and a designated councillor as liaisons; 3) engage with Shuswap Climate Action and others such as BC Hydro and Fortis for expertise and help; 4) engage the community soon to get their feedback; and 5) show the city’s climate initiatives on the city website.

Regarding the website, Spencer said it’s really lacking in terms of showcasing the achievements the city has already made.

“We would like to help with more accurate up-to-date information on the city website any way that we can and we’d like to be able to link websites to inform residents of opportunities and initiatives.”

Spencer said many groups are starting to be concerned about their carbon output. He said while Larch Hills is very popular, the nordic society has approached Shuswap Climate Action, as society members have done carbon assessments on the hundreds of cars that arrive there.

“They’re very, very concerned about the footprint that is being generated in that once-pristine area,” Spencer said.

Vroom said the men will be presenting to all the municipalities in the regional district.

Read more: Video – All ages rally in Salmon Arm to demand climate action

Read more: Thirty businesses on board with composting

Read more: Salmon Arm asks residents to think of the workers emptying their compost bins

Mayor and councillors expressed appreciation for the presentation and the group’s commitment.

Mayor Alan Harrison said he thinks it’s true the city doesn’t showcase its successes around climate action enough. He also pointed to the success of the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags, which was possible not because of a large outlay of money but because of the cooperation of citizens and businesses.

Coun. Tim Lavery said he is on board with the need for continued action and more education of the public, and has attended workshops on what local governments can do. He said he counts himself as a “climate sincere local politician.”

He took some issue with the group’s comparisons with other jurisdictions such as Kamloops, Victoria and Kelowna, noting that smaller local governments have severe limitations due to tax base to implement changes rapidly. He said he would like to talk more with the group about how the city handles its biggest sources of emissions as well as options for proceeding. He noted the city’s curbside food organics collection is reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions considerably.

Coun. Wallace Richmond noted that collaboration is key and she hopes the group will be visiting the regional district, business associations, the construction association, the MLA, the MP and others.

Harrison suggested Shuswap Climate Action also speak to the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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