Golden town council received a presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 7, asking them to declare a state of emergency over the ongoing climate crisis.
Calvin Beauchesne, a resident of the area for three years who delivered the presentation and holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a master’s degree in sustainability, cited that over 2,000 communities worldwide have made a similar declaration. Several major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and most recently, Calgary, have declared climate emergencies, with approximately 500 other Canadian jurisdictions also declaring a state of emergency.
“Every government has a role to play in this,” said Beachesne to council.
“Simply put, climate change is an emergency, and the tone from the media and the government doesn’t reflect the concerns of the scientific community.
Beauchesne cited how the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C by the end of the century is already seeming unattainable, with warming already passing the 1.1 C threshold in March 2020. The consequences of this warming can already be seen, with the heat dome, wildfires, atmospheric rivers and other intense weather events that have hit the province over the last year all examples of the impacts of the climate crisis.
In Golden, Beauchesne says that climate change will impact the type of active lifestyle people like to live in the region.
“I moved to Golden to enjoy the outdoors as many people and that is increasingly harder to do with fires and smoke and heatwaves,” said Beauchesne.
“I know a lot of people in this community that really care about this issue and I really hope that council takes this seriously and we can continue this convo (sic) in the future.”
In addition to the presentation, Beachesne provided a template for what the declaration would look like, as well as a pamphlet on the West Kootenay 100 per cent Renewable Energy Plan, which outlines a pathway for communities to commit to being 100 per cent green by 2050.
Similar communities to Golden, such as Castlegar, Nelson, Rossland and Kaslo all committing to eliminating emissions by 2050.
Beauchesne also says that implementing these changes could be an economic opportunity for many in the town, with options such as solar panels paying for themselves in five years and providing up to 15 years of free energy after that initial period.
“I agree that we all have a role and although to this point in time we haven’t formally declared a climate emergency I know our staff have worked hard to integrate things to reduce our footprint, but this is more opportunity to expand on that,” said Mayor Ron Oszust.
“This is very exciting and creates hope for all of us, but when we look at the big picture and consider our limitations, but I’m happy to see someone in our community push this forward,” said councillor Connie Barlowe.
Beauchesne’s recommendation to council to put forward a motion to declare an emergency will now be deliberated and discussed before officially moving forward at future council meetings if council chooses.