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Dec 2 Owen Sound City Council directs staff to prepare a report to address climate change.

Jan 13 Staff report to deal with climate change recommends hiring a Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Co-ordinator (CAMC)

Jan 27 Council passes budget to fund CAMC position

Feb 10 Mayor casts deciding vote to delay the hiring of CAMC position, with no request for a staff report or a timeline to provide alternative options.

Comments at the Feb 10th council meeting:
Mayor Boddy “This is all so new for us…without rushing ahead too quickly, let’s step back” We’ve known about climate change for over 30 years, and had world leaders addressed this more quickly and not continued to step back, perhaps we wouldn’t be facing a global crisis.

Marion Koepke would like the new city manager and council to complete the official and strategic plans before giving a green light to hiring a specialist. I guess we wouldn’t want too much informed input into these plans that will guide city action (and inaction) for the next 5-20 years.

Many Councillors spoke of hearing from people who thought that council was moving too quickly to hire this position. I wonder if those councillors have participated in the many climate action gatherings which have taken place in front of city hall over the past year. Have those councillors noticed the number of concerned citizens crossing all demographics who attend council meetings, ask questions, propose solutions, and organize community events to educate residents on climate change?

Many people who have taken practical action to address climate change think that council is moving too slowly. How does council make decisions? Which voices are heard? The ones that align with status quo thinking or those who are looking to help create a better future? Where is the statistical data to back up the Deputy Mayor’s statement that far more people are opposed to hiring the CAMA than in favour? Often decisions seem to be based on random conversations and opinions. It’s time we listened to the science and the data.

Studies show attitudes toward climate change have altered dramatically over the past year. A Yale study, that also applies to Canadians, shows that over 30% of people are now alarmed and actively taking climate action. This is up from 17% only a few years ago. The percentage of deniers has dropped from 16 to 10%. If you add the alarmed (31%) and the concerned (26%), that is a majority. The “concerned” agree with the science but haven’t taken action yet because they are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. This group is ready to act, but just needs local leadership and education to know what steps to take.

Richard Thomas stated that “for more than a century, Owen Sound has been waiting and has been following and it is not a strategy that has ever worked for this community.” Couldn’t agree more. We are looking to Owen Sound for leadership. Fortunately we live in a city where there are innovative entrepreneurs and creators of social enterprise, whose vision lives outside the box of limiting change that seems to prevail within Owen Sound City Council.

Climate change action requires collective action and public education. There are dedicated and informed community members anxious to work with the city to address the urgent situation where we find ourselves. Instead of being threatened by the movement that is gaining momentum within our city, a forward thinking council would harness that energy and value the opportunity to work together, as have at least seven other municipalities in Grey/Bruce.

Mary Anne Alton
Owen Sound

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