Eric Chong asked Abbotsford council to declare a climate emergency on Monday. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Abbotsford council declines to declare climate emergency

Mayor says city is working to reduce emissions, but that procedures preclude immediate action

Abbotsford council has declined to declare a climate emergency and prompted staff to find more ways to speed up work to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

And while Mayor Henry Braun promised the city would continue working to reduce its climate emissions, activists who came to council Monday to convince officials that the matter was urgent left disappointed.

Eric Chong, of the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion climate change activist group, presented a slideshow detailing how a consensus of scientists have come to the conclusion that human-caused climate change is accelerating and that immediate action to limit greenhouse gas emissions is needed.

Chong – who was accompanied by about a dozen or so other men, women and children – pointed to the city’s recent emissions report and told council: “I don’t believe this is the best we can do and I know for a fact more is required … Abbotsford can take a real leadership position and become a role model to tackle the climate emergency.”

Following the presentation, Braun told Chong that the city is doing a number of things to reduce its emissions, pointing to its recent sustainability report and master plans that aim to increase efficiencies and respond to climate change.

“Nobody has to convince me that there’s climate change,” he said. “I’ve lived here for 65 years and I know the climate is different than when I grew up.”

“This is something that, for sure, we need to pay attention to, and are.”

RELATED: Green fleet will cut emissions and costs, report says

RELATED: Changing climate to cost Abbotsford taxpayers millions

But Braun also noted that work takes money. After Chong said that there were greater costs of not taking significant action, Braun suggested the possible need for a broader community discussion on the topic.

“Maybe we need a public discourse to see how much the people are willing to pay in increased property taxes to move it up.” The city has a plan to replace its lights with more efficient LED bulbs over four years, and Braun said maybe it could be done in two.

Braun said staff had heard the presentation and that it spotlighted an important issue that the city would continue to address. But he said council was likely to stick with the general practice of passing a motion to “receive” a delegation, but not taking immediate action.

Coun. Dave Loewen said he agreed climate change was an important topic and that the city needed to do more, but pushed back against those emphasizing the danger of the situation.

“I’m not a big fan of saying we declare an emergency and hocus-pocus. I don’t buy into that,” he said. “We do need to take action … I think there’s much more value in action than in just stating there’s an emergency.”

Coun. Patricia Ross, though, said the city could take the moment to look at how it can increase its efforts on the file. Ross, who noted that she had voted to declare a climate emergency at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, said council should do more than just receive the declaration. Ross moved an amendment to ask staff to create a report on how the city could increase its efforts to reduce its emissions and develop new ideas. However, no other councillors seconded the motion, and council proceeded to simply receive the delegation.

“I can assure you that our staff are working in six or seven different areas,” Braun told Chong following the vote. “Climate action is a federal and provincial priority, and local governments are key partners in helping to reduce greenhouse gases and Abbotsford is going to do its share.

“But it’s not just the city, we as individuals and residents also have an obligation … There are a whole host of things we can do in our own homes and own businesses.”


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley youth: school district hosts interagency forum to help kids

Key issues included substance use, disconnected youth, social media, and creating an ethic of care

PHOTOS: Langley councillor provides inside look of Aldergrove’s Alder Inn

Bedbugs and other marks of disrepair lead Eric Woodward to argue against its preservation

Dozen impaired drivers caught on first weekend of Langley RCMP CounterAttack

Police also rounded up speeders and unlicensed drivers

VIDEO: Giants fall 3-1 to Victoria in mid-week Island game

The major junior hockey team is back at home in Langley for a toy drive and Santa singalong Friday

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Chilliwack mom gives back to neonatal unit with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Most Read