A city councillor passionate about climate change said the city is dragging its heels on the issue.
Coun. Arjun Singh told the city’s development, engineering and sustainability committee on Tuesday that the city is “failing” to meet targets outlined in the Sustainable Kamloops Plan, which he blamed on being insufficiently resourced.
Looking ahead as the city works on a new Community Climate Action Plan, Singh wondered if more money will be needed or if goals should be more attainable.
“Sustainable Kamloops progress, looking back at it, has been very disappointing to me,” he said.
“And I think that most communities are facing the same thing. Canada has come down on greenhouse gas emissions. B.C.’s gone up a little bit. I think Kamloops has probably gone up. The question is, have we done that trajectory with meaningful actions, right?”
Coun. Dieter Dudy, however, called Singh’s labelling of city efforts “harsh,” noting the city continues to work toward goals and leads among other municipalities.
Getting the community on side, he said, is challenging.
“I think you’re continuing to work towards something, but not getting to it as quickly as you would have liked to, and you make adjustments along the way,” Dudy said.
City staff noted many communities are falling short of climate action targets. They noted the issue was not top of mind for municipalities until the mid-2000s.
Singh, however, said public urgency around the issue is increasing and stressed climate action goals differ from other goals at city hall, in that the issue cannot wait.
“It’d be different if we had a goal for skateboard parks in town,” Singh said.
“We said four and we only made two. That’s a different thing …. we’re talking about more extreme weather, we’re talking about more droughts, we’re talking about more wildfires. Those things don’t care if you don’t meet your goals. They’re just going to happen if you don’t meet them. That’s where I’m saying, how do we get to a point where we are now succeeding to meet those goals?”
Singh brought to the committee meeting two climate action-related initiatives previously adopted in communities throughout the province and around the world: declaration of a climate emergency and support for David Suzuki’s Blue Dot campaign.
Singh said he was approached by members of the community in support of the Blue Dot campaign, which aims to include environmental rights — such as the right to clean air and drinking water, safe food and access to nature — in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
About 500 people in Kamloops have pledged support for the initiative.
“The declarations are aspirational, but I also think that they signal to the community in a way that it’s something that we take very seriously,” Singh said.
Coun. Sadie Hunter said that while she agreed the city should look at making a public declaration, she wanted more cohesion and alignment with the city’s strategic plan.
Climate action is one of the city’s five strategic pillars and staff will be soon be bringing to council a list of actions to complete under those categories.
The development, engineering and sustainability committee agreed to invite Blue Dot campaign organizers to city council to appear as a delegation at a later date.
On the sustainability front, the city recently held the Green Living Expo and moved staff into a house in Riverside Park to promote sustainability initiatives.
It is working on a long-term electric vehicle strategy, a single-use plastic bag ban bylaw and implementation of the BC Energy Step Code, among other green initiatives.