For the second time in less than a month, Coun. Lori Baldwin-Sands failed in her bid to have council endorse a motion to declare a climate emergency in the city.
So, you have to ask what is the motivation behind this motion that Baldwin-Sands admits is purely symbolic in nature?
Well, if you were one of the several dozen supporters in the public gallery Monday (April 15) and you listened objectively to what was espoused by seven councillors, the mayor and city manager, then you should have your answer.
The motion, tabled by the member of council who is seeking the Liberal nomination for Elgin-Middlesex-London riding in this fall’s federal vote is, pure and simply politically motivated.
That became apparent when the only voice in support of Baldwin-Sands’ motion was former Liberal MPP for the same riding, Coun. Steve Peters.
Going back to the first debate on her motion March 18, it was Peters who opened up the discussion when he stressed, “We need a corporate vision on what we can do.”
Not a hint of support at that time and Peters, along with the author of the motion, agreed to defer the matter to a future date.
The other members of council, including Mayor Joe Preston, voiced some variation of what is required at city hall is a long-term strategic plan.
Not a declaration of an emergency and certainly not something as shallow as a symbolic gesture.
Coun. Gary Clarke followed Peters that March evening with, “We need a corporate strategy.”
Coun. Jeff Kohler added, “We do have a strategy. We need to promote and add to the things we are doing.”
From Coun. Mark Tinlin, “We need more than just this motion.”
“We are taking huge steps forward, but I don’t think we have to declare an emergency,” advised Preston.
In her note to council members this past Monday, Baldwin-Sands wrote a symbolic statement “simply encourages everyone with the city to look at decisions and projects through a climate change lens.”
And in response, seven members of council argued that is exactly what city staff and administration are, and have been, doing for some time. Not one of those seven individuals at any time denied the impact of climate change on this planet.
City Manager Wendell Graves reminded council a component of the 2019 budget is a review of the municipality’s strategic plan.
With a focus on energy conservation, renewable energy and ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have moved ahead on some of these,” advised Graves.
He went on to note over the past five years, across all city departments, about $20 million has been dedicated to those issues.
And, that does not include efforts in place at the new police headquarters and to be incorporated into the social services and housing campus under construction at 230 Talbot Street.
“We will revisit the entire strategic plan in a holistic way,” assured Graves.
As the lone voice of support for Baldwin-Sands’ symbolic motion, Peters complained, “We just keep kicking this issue around.”
Sorry Steve, city staff and administration are addressing climate-related issues, it is Coun. Baldwin-Sands who keeps kicking this issue around.
Likewise, Steve, the motion did not lose because council is “hung up on the word emergency.”
It is your fellow Liberal who is hung up on the word and symbolic gestures while city hall is moving forward with tangible action on climate change initiatives.
In an interview with Peters after the municipal vote last fall, he was adamant, “I’ll be fighting to make sure we are not becoming a platform for any one particular party of any stripe at the local level. That’s always been a big one for me.”
Not evident Monday evening, Steve.
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