Our take: Climate change the priority, not another priority
North Cowichan council has just adopted a climate action and energy plan it believes will make it a national leader and model for local government.
And for that approach, it deserves a standing ovation.
Anyone who doubts the need for progressive policy in this area is like a tyrannosaurus playing in the tar sands during a meteor shower.
The fact the region’s biggest municipality has chosen to make emissions and energy conservation a priority is a compliment to those in charge.
But — and this is a crucial but — the municipality must not mistake “priority” for carte blanche.
North Cowichan has already invested a lot of money and all kinds of staff, consultant and volunteer hours into drafting this document. The next stage is should not be additional hirings and studies. It should be putting existing staff to work implementing it. A climate plan should not be about adding a new layer of bureaucracy. It should be about adjusting the old bureaucracy to a new mindset.
When the News Leader Pictorial decided it was time to start delivering local news on the internet, it did not hire additional reporters to write new stories and additional editors to post them online. It put existing staff to work feeding both its print and its electronic platforms. Extra staff would have been nice, but the realities of the news business did not make it economically feasible.
That is the approach we expect from North Cowichan.
Yes, it’s not that easy. Yes sacrifices will have to be made. Yes, there will be additional costs. And this is where “priority” comes in. Priority means “do this first,” not “do this in addition to.”
And if priorizing climate change means something needs to drop from the bottom of the priority list, so be it.
Taxpayers have made it clear they don’t have bottomless pockets. Not all things can be priorities.