Oak Bay council is making good on its climate emergency declaration from April that said it would create a climate action task force.
The seven-month delay was to allow Oak Bay’s review of all committees to be completed.
The new Oak Bay Community Climate Action Working Group, as created earlier in November, held its first public engagement session on Nov. 19 to take the temperature on residents’ key concerns.
Coun. Andrew Appleton is the working group’s chair, which is comprised of same members from Oak Bay’s Advisory Planning Commission, Pam Copley, Patrick Frey, Virginia Holden, Kristina Leach, Michael Low, Kris Nichols, Caroline Smart and Tim Taddy.
“[We] will have to move quickly, it has to be in by March of 2020 and we want something actionable to really address the emergency in a quantitative way,” Appleton said. “If we declare a climate emergency, then in my opinion, we need to show steps of what we’re doing about it.”
A 2008 Oak Bay climate task force created a list of recommendations that residents could adopt to mitigate their GHG emissions and carbon footprint. Oak Bay has created a new climate change working group to develop a series of recommendations ahead of the District of Oak Bay’s 2020 strategic plan.
Its goal is to “develop up to five recommendations for Community Climate Action Projects for council to consider in the 2020-2022 strategic planning and budget process,” reads the report.
“It came out of some discussion that happened associated with the council review of commits and commissions,” Appleton said.
Out of that consultant report was a recommendation to restart an environment committee to potentially deal with the climate emergency declared in spring, Appleton explained.
Already, Coun. Tara Ney has made a suggestion that the climate action working group consider a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers as “low hanging” fruit. That comes before council on Nov. 25.
The challenge for the working group will be to gather feedback from public consultation, synthesize it with other research and develop a consumable five-point plan by March, Appleton said.
“It’s a lot of work to do in a short time,” Appleton said.
The scale of the five points will be up to the working group to define. It’s for the community day-to-day and district operations alike.
“Nothing is summarily off the table,” Appleton said. “We shouldn’t limit ourselves, the focus will lend itself towards community initiatives, and not just corporate.”
Meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is Dec. 3 of which a good portion will be allocated towards establishing categories to define the scope of the project.
The new climate action working group is not the first of its kind at Oak Bay. In 2008 a climate task force released a report (available here) with recommendations for both municipal operations and community members to mitigate their carbon footprint.