The Peterborough Examiner e-edition

City failing to move fast enough on climate, group says

JOELLE KOVACH REPORTER

City council has tried, but overall failed to tackle climate change with any urgency, says a local environmental group — though the councillor in charge of climate action says the city is moving forward and is “determined” to continue.

“It’s too little and it’s too late,” said Guy Hanchet of the group For Our Grandchildren.

Hanchet and six other group members — including climate activists Linda and Al Slavin — stood on the steps of Peterborough City Hall early Monday evening to offer an assessment, one year post-election, of city council’s climate efforts.

Councillors weren’t there: they were inside, in a closed-session meeting, and didn’t hear the group’s concerns. Mark Bullock, a group member, said that while the city “has not done all it might to reduce emissions,” its greatest oversight is its failure to use “a climate lens” in decision-making.

“A climate lens is a planning tool which would assess the climate impact of every decision which comes before council — every choice the council makes — where the environment is involved,” Bullock said. “This was proposed more than four years ago when the climate emergency was declared, and it is yet to be created.”

The previous city council declared a climate emergency in 2019.

Some city staff reports highlight the environmental implications of a proposed plan, but not every report to council does so.

Coun. Joy Lachica, the city’s environment and climate change portfolio chair, said in an interview later Monday evening that the city is coming up with new green ideas.

“The Climate Action Plan 2.0 is in process as we speak,” Lachica said.

For example, she noted that the city is carrying out a study now to determine whether any more environmentally friendly fuels could be used to run city transit, instead of diesel.

“We are running out of time, the world is running out of time — and later is too late.

GUY HANCHET FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN

Completing that study is a necessary first step toward making “a sound decision,” she said — other cities have rushed to change and have had setbacks.

“In other jurisdictions and other municipalities, there have been hiccups — we don’t want those things to happen (here),” Lachica said.

But Hanchet said the slow pace of change is unacceptable. While he said it’s “technically true” that the city’s making progress on tackling climate change, “it’s not fast enough.”

“We are running out of time, the world is running out of time — and later is too late,” Hanchet said. “We have to act now.”

Furthermore council has missed golden opportunities lately to do more, Hanchet said, such as when it voted down the purchase of a new electric sewage collection truck in early December to replace one that was considered worn out.

The electric truck was priced at more than $600,000, when a diesel truck would cost about $250,000.

“They (councillors) seem to think the only thing that matters is the money. Of course it matters — but they didn’t look at the long-term picture,” Hanchet said, adding that it would cost less over time to run an electric truck compared to a diesel one.

For Our Grandchildren further says other Ontario cities have green initiatives that are lacking here. On the group website, for instance, it’s noted that Peel Region and Toronto have electric garbage trucks.

“We weep that Peterborough is too timid to follow where others are going,” Hanchet said.

But Lachica — who had voted in favour of buying the electric wastewater truck — said Ontario municipalities are all struggling to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions fast enough.

“Widely around the province, we hear the same messages and the frustration on the part of municipalities that believe in this climate work and believe that the emergency is at the forefront,” Lachica said. “We’re all dealing with the struggle of trying to get there more quickly. And we’re determined to do that.”

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2024-01-17T08:00:00.0000000Z

2024-01-17T08:00:00.0000000Z

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