Climate protesters added a little heat to a Kelowna city council meeting on Tuesday, donning signs calling for the city to declare a climate emergency.
The eight protesters, affiliated with both Climate Save Kelowna and Extinction Rebellion, stood in silence for about 20 minutes as city council continued its meeting as scheduled.
“(The city has) set unambitious targets, fails to meet the targets from previous plans and lies about meeting those targets,” said Extinction Rebellion’s Anna Ciocoiu. “It seems like nobody is listening. We’ve decided to peacefully come here and crash these meetings and start escalating the situation if they keep ignoring it.
“There’s so much we can do to be climate leaders and I’m just not seeing that.”
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the city is doing a number of things to help mitigate the impact of climate change.
“We are undertaking some major planning initiatives right now — our Official Community Plan being the main one, as well as our Transportation Master Plan — that will definitely be forward-looking,” said Basran after the meeting had adjourned. “I hear their concerns; I share them. And I certainly welcome their right to share their opinion.”
As far as declaring a climate emergency goes, Basran said he believes actions are better than words.
“My personal opinion is we could declare a climate emergency but it’s not going to change any of the things we’re doing,” he said. “The question I would put back on them is: what do they think would happen as a result of declaring a climate emergency?
“It would be words on paper and I’d rather take action.”
Both Climate Save Kelowna and Extinction Rebellion hold small protests outside city hall every Friday since the fall as part of their efforts to push elected officials to do more to fight climate change.
In the fall, hundreds of people turned up for a series of large protests in Kelowna and across B.C. as part of a series of global protests. Students at the University of British Columbia Okanagan also held a protest and portions of Water Street were temporarily shut down during another protest.