Residents interested in climate action are asked to attend the fourth global climate strike outside of Penticton’s city hall on Nov. 29 at noon.
The event is part of the global movement Fridays for Future, which was started by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The first strike in Penticton co-ordinated with the first global climate strike on Sept. 27, and a small group of advocates have continued to picket outside city hall each Friday afterward.
Penticton city council was unable to attend or address the first strike since all members were in Victoria for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference. Coun. Julius Bloomfield said he has been in contact with the strikers since then, and while he supports their message, he is cautious of politicizing the movement.
“I’ve talked to a couple of them a couple of weeks ago outside city hall and we had a good chat. I sympathize with their position,” said Bloomfield. “But one of the things that came out of the Livable Cities conference I was recently at in Victoria and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec early this year is the need to take the politics out of the climate action argument.
“The feeling is that the climate argument has become polarized and way too political. It needs to be a multi-pronged or multi-party approach to climate action.”
Bloomfield said he’s found that most people acknowledge that climate change is happening, though some disagree over what is causing it, so “the debate becomes now, how do you deal with it?”
The City of Penticton has had climate change on its radar for several years, joining the BC Climate Action Charter as a signatory in 2007. From this initiative, the city launched two plans: the Corporate Climate Action Plan and the Community Climate Action Plan.
According to city staff, the Community Climate Action Plan provides strategic guidance on how to reduce community energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The main focus areas are energy efficiencies in new and existing buildings; encouraging renewable energy use; improving alternative transportation amenities and efficient vehicle use; and waste diversion.
The Corporate Climate Action Plan aims to support the city in meeting its commitment to carbon-neutral operations, and “the corporation of the City of Penticton has been carbon neutral since 2016,” according to city staff.
“Both climate action plans were completed in January 2011, and some of the content is in need of updating in order to maintain relevancy, incorporate current costs of energy, and to replace non-existent programs,” said community stability coordinator David Kassian. “To address this, the city has commissioned a Community Sustainability Advisory Committee, which will guide the rewriting of the two plans. The committee is comprised of the council, city staff, representatives from Interior Health, Okanagan College, Fortis BC, and five members of the community with knowledge and interest in sustainability.”
The committee will meet for the first time in January 2020, and one of the first items it has been directed to look at by council is the possibility of declaring a climate emergency.
Those planning to attend the Nov. 29 strike are asked to bring a sign or banner, and check out the Facebook event page.
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