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'Climate emergency' motion crafted for council deliberation

'It makes it much clearer to the community that when it comes to budget time we’re going to put our money where our mouth is:' coun. Leanne Piper
20181217 council piper ts 4
Ward 5 councillor Leanne Piper. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

A motion asking Guelph City Council to declare a climate emergency has now been written. The wording carefully crafted to appeal to as many members of council as possible.

Whether it will be adopted by council remains to be seen.

Councillors Leanne Piper and James Gordon have come up with a motion and Piper said it’s important to recognize that declaring a climate emergency comes with a cost. It’s not just a symbolic gesture.

“We already have an action plan. A very ambitious, robust and doable action plan. We don’t need to re-state that,” Piper said.

“What we do need to state, in my opinion, is that we’re going to fund it. Because an action plan without funding has no meaning and it has no outcome and it won’t be successful.”

She said that the best way to tell the community that the city will fund a climate action plan is to declare a climate emergency.

“It makes it much clearer to the community that when it comes to budget time we’re going to put our money where our mouth is.”

Council meets May 27 and several delegates are expected.

At that time a move by Gordon aimed at moving up Guelph’s net zero target date to 2035 from the previously approved 2050 will also be heard.

Piper said she’s reached out to all other council members to get their input on the motion in order to try and get it passed.

“I’ve reached out to all of my colleagues on council and said, without changing the intent, if there’s something you’re more comfortable with, then talk to us and let’s see if there’s something we can all unanimously agree with,” Piper said.

“Everyone understands the intent. It’s not like we’re going to take any amendment proposed, but it will be considered.

“James and I think it’s important that we don’t water down the intent. But we’re willing to entertain ideas that will help us move it forward.”

Piper and coun. James Gordon have been working towards getting a climate emergency declared by Guelph, joining a number of other municipalities across the

Some members of council have complained that the declaration of a climate emergency casts a shadow on the work already being done by the city and could lead to potentially expensive initiatives.

Piper’s motion reads as follows:

“That the City of Guelph acknowledges the urgency of climate change and declares a global climate emergency, and that all future reports of Council contain a section titled Climate Change Implications, that will identify how the recommendations will contribute to meeting the objectives of the CEI and/or Corporate Energy Plan."

Councillor Dan Gibson, one of the more vocal opponents to a climate emergency declaration by council, said he’s having “positive” conversations about getting a motion done.

“The words ‘declare’ and ‘emergency’ have significant connotations at the municipal level especially in terms of dealing with immediate short term responses to natural disasters or civil unrest,” Gibson told GuelphToday.

“That being said, I’m sensitive to the urgency that residents want to see on this file. I’m having positive conversations with councillors about a motion all of council would hopefully support.”