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ADVANCE TIMES EXCLUSIVE

AT YOUR SERVICE: Council divided on effectiveness of Township climate control actions

Question-and-answer feature calling on those elected to office in Langley

Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called it “At Your Service.”

It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.

Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.

Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.

The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.

MOST RECENT – AT YOUR SERVICE: MPs call for borders to be safely re-opened

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QUESTION

Langley Township council was asked: In light of the recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report on climate change, should the Township accelerate its plan to slash local greenhouse gas emissions?

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ANSWERS

Mayor Jack Froese

A. The Township of Langley has adopted the emission reduction targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 45 per cent by 2030; and, carbon neutrality, or zero carbon, by 2050.

The scale of response required to address the climate crisis is beyond what can be achieved solely through the Township’s efforts, this requires international, federal, and provincial action.

To realize this vision and achieve the emission reduction targets, the Township’s climate action strategy, adopted by council on Jan. 25, 2021 outlines targets, “Big Moves,” and over 140 specific action items to address the changing climate and prepare us for the future.

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Councillor Petrina Arnason

A. Langley Township adopted a climate emergency declaration in 2019, and its climate action strategy in 2021, to guide and shape all of our decision-making through a climate lens.

The twin goals of the strategy are to reduce carbon emissions, and to better adapt to on-going climate change into the future.

Given recent news and scientific reporting with respect to the implications of failing to act to keep global warming to 1.5°C, including increases to catastrophic wildfires, unprecedented heat domes, accelerating drought conditions, flooding, etc., it is clear that more action must be taken to limit these substantive risks by implementing ambitious and more proactive and rapid actions towards a carbon neutral future.

As a local government, our climate strategy focuses on “Big Moves” in priority areas including transportation, buildings and land-use, infrastructure, green space and ecosystems, health and emergency preparedness, agriculture, and leadership.

To focus on one area in this broad topic, we have significant policy opportunities we need to pursue based on implementing land-use planning decisions that preserve and enhance our tree canopy to sequester CO2, as well as the continued development of networks of ecological greenways and park spaces throughout the Township, and the adoption of a comprehensive green infrastructure strategy.

Overall, the Township remains in an enviable position regarding our ability to address climate change through such measures, but we must ensure that we act more boldly by accelerating our actions in order to deliver a climate resilient future.

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Councillor David Davis

A. This councillor did not reply before the online deadline.

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Councillor Steve Ferguson

A. Firstly I would like to say that our family are avid recyclers and reuses.

Everything from household waste/paper/cans/bottles to clothing and even vehicles. We also chose to live in a neighbourhood that is within walking distance to grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and community parks.

Langley Township has been involved with adopting the emission reduction targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 45 per cent by 2030; and, carbon neutrality, or zero carbon by 2050.

It is extremely important for us to work together with our federal and provincial partners to accommodate the scale of response required to address the climate crisis.

Knowing this, our vision to achieve the emission reduction targets is that Langley Township in January 2021 adopted a “climate action strategy,” targeting important steps and over 140 specific action items to address the changing climate and prepare us for the future.

We also can encourage our residents when applicable to:

• shop local for groceries and farm produce

• expand reuse and recycling of goods

• purchase energy efficient appliances, and construction supplies

• purchase e-vehicles

• keep neighbourhoods free from litter

• through social media post updates and new ideas

We are all in this together.

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Councillor Margaret Kunst

A. Township of Langley (TOL) council declared a climate emergency in July 2019, the goal being to highlight and accelerate action on climate change.

I am grateful to our staff at the TOL who have worked extremely hard to bring the climate action strategy to council, which was unanimously approved in January 2021.

The TOL greenhouse gas emission targets set are based on the best global science from the IPCC. There are also five Big Moves identified, eight areas of focus and a list of 140 actions.

The current situation we are experiencing here in British Columbia and around the world with the fires and flooding certainly highlight the need to make sure we continue to do all we can to reach those goals and targets as well as investing in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

It’s important that we identify the risks and plan accordingly to minimize the effects.

We can’t do this alone.

Municipalities across Metro Vancouver and cities across the country and around the world are developing similar strategies. This is a global issue and one we need to address locally, we all need to do our part to tackle the challenges ahead.

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Councillor Bob Long

A. In January of this year, council unanimously approved the TOL climate action strategy – allowing us to enter into the final stage, which is implementation.

There are over 140 action items in eight priority areas:

Transportation and mobility, buildings and land use, infrastructure, green space and ecosystems, health and emergency preparedness, agriculture, waste, and leadership and integration.

Any strategy should be flexible enough to adapt to changing times – which is exactly why the Township has this initiative.

Given the grave concerns that this IPCC report points to, yes an accelerated approach should be used… and I am confident our staff are endeavouring to do just that.

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Councillor Kim Richter

A. Yes. Absolutely. More direct climate action needs to be taken faster for the future of our children and grandchildren.

After this summer, it is clearly needed now more than ever before.

As a start, we must protect and save much more tree canopy in the Township.

I am very thankful for all the expert advice provided to Township council by the members of the Tree Protection Advisory Committee (TPAC) over the past year and for their recommended tree orotection bylaw changes.

I applaud this Township council for approving TPAC’s recommended bylaw changes.

Now we need to move on to promoting, encouraging, and enforcing “net-zero” residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in the Township.

In my opinion, we also need more “solar panel ready” and “green” roofs throughout the Township on all new construction.

We must accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

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Councillor Blair Whitmarsh

A. The Township of Langley adopted a new climate action strategy in January 2021.

The 140 actions, supported through public consultation, put the Township of Langley (TOL) in a strong place with regards to managing climate change.

I am proud of the work that TOL staff did on the climate action strategy and the support it received from council.

The plan is aligned with Metro Vancouver, and I believe we should work hard to ensure that we reach the targets set for 2035 and 2050.

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Councillor Eric Woodward

A. Yes.

As we have seen with the recent record heat wave and ongoing wildfires throughout the province, all levels of government in Canada owe it to future generation to do more – more quickly.

Dealing with climate change is one of the biggest issues we all face.

Modern infrastructure, reduced emissions from buildings, an increase of our tree canopy, and more protected areas are just some of the ideas we need to get on with.

We need the political will to get these things done.

Along with “slashing emissions,” a more modern approach to developing and renewing our urban environment is badly needed as well. We are still way behind others in this regard.

For real results for future generations, we must improve and renew our urban planning approach, and our political leadership.

Inexplicably, as one example, both still support terrible strip malls in the heart of residential areas, such as the new one now being built at 204th Street and 80th Avenue in Willoughby. It will now be there for decades. Much of our urban planning is still based on the past, not the future, and this affects our environment.

We must demand and expect better for our communities, and our environment.

Much of the Township’s first climate action strategy doesn’t go far enough, fast enough, even with items possible within existing budgets, as much of it is planned for five to 10 years from now.

We can do better. And with what we have seen just this summer, we must.

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UP NEXT

Next week’s Langley school district trustees are being asked: What can the school district do next year to help students who fell behind because of the disruptions of the pandemic?

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Watch for their answers online Sunday.

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