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- by Liz Zetlin and Scott Taylor

Thanks to senior Grey County planner Scott Taylor for his explanation of what declaring a climate crisis means. This is a slightly condensed version of Scott's talk at the Climate Action Team BGOS' panel discussion on August 22 at The Harmony Centre.

1. What does declaring a climate crisis/emergency mean?

It sounds like a great way to raise awareness and inspire others to do the same, whether it’s people that might be in the council chambers or whether it’s people that might read about it through the media or through those that read council minutes - any forum. Hopefully they can see our elected officials and staff taking action.

I think on behalf of any municipality or organization or community that passes such a climate crisis declaration, it’s a great way to start to demonstrate commitment towards action moving forward. There’s been a lot of discussions, but I think there’s a number of people in our communities that are really looking for “well, OK what is the action, what are the next steps that we’re really moving forward on?”

I will note that this can be accomplished without declaring a climate emergency. Grey County council, for example, hasn’t declared such an emergency yet, but they have declared their commitment to move forward with a climate change action plan, which the county is just getting started on now. They are committed to working through this with staff and more importantly with members of the community.

Events like this are great ways for us to learn and to take input from what the community is seeing and a lot of the experts across the room will help inform the process that we’re about to undertake.

I guess the final thing I see from declaring a climate crisis would be it self-identifies a municipality to the point where other municipalities can start to build networks. So if West Grey has already declared this crisis, then there could be other municipalities across the country that are looking at that and reach out to officials or staff at West Grey to say “Hey, listen, we saw the process that you went through. We’d like to learn from that. We’d like to do the same thing.”

Many times a municipal government is not facing truly unique problems. Our fellow planners in Bruce County refer to it as “R and D” – robbing and duplicating. So there’s lots we can learn from our other municipalities and hopefully teach each other and go through it together.


 

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