Bulmer: Climate change something to consider as part of official plan update

ABERFOYLE – Though council took no action on Amherstburg’s declaration of a climate emergency, the resolution is giving Puslinch councillors something to consider in the future.

The resolution came before Puslinch councillors on Dec. 4. In November, Amherstburg declared a climate emergency within its boundaries. The Windsor-Essex County environment committee had urged Essex County and the City of Windsor to declare climate emergencies.

The resolution noted numerous Canadian municipalities, including Chatham-Kent, London, Sarnia, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Guelph, Kingston, Kitchener and the Waterloo Region, declared climate emergencies and some were implementing strategic plans in order to help reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Earlier this summer, Amherstburg distributed sandbags to residents as the community, which faced historically high water levels.

The town has 43.7km of shoreline along the Detroit River and Lake Erie, along with 12.4km of shoreline on inland waterways, and is thus greatly affected by water levels in the Great Lakes basin.

The resolution also noted the most recent report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that within 12 years, in order to keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5 C and maintain a climate compatible with human civilization, there must be a reduction in carbon emissions of about 45% from 2010 levels, reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The resolution states that based on current projections, human-caused climate change “will adversely the local economy, local infrastructure and property, put a strain on municipal budgets and result in significant economic and health burdens for local residents, particularly our vulnerable populations.”

As municipalities are understood to produce and/or have regulatory jurisdiction over approximately 50% of carbon emissions in Canada, the town has asked its administration to prepare a report containing recommendations for priority actions items, implementation measures and cost requirements to accelerate and urgently work towards the reduction of emissions.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer stated he had not intended for the township to take action on the item immediately.

Bulmer said the resolution reminded of a time some 15 years earlier he was asked to speak before a community environmental leadership program group.

“I was asked what we as a municipality could do to address climate change,” said Bulmer. “I am embarrassed to admit, but at the time I did not have a clue if there was anything we could do, or if we were responsible for any of the problems.”

When Bulmer read the Amherstburg resolution, which states municipalities regulate 50% of potential emissions and that community was undertaking a comprehensive review of its official plan, he said, “I thought perhaps we should put this in our files with our other issues as we undertake a review of our official plan at the county.”

He stressed, “I am not suggesting we declare a climate emergency, but just that we prepare for this low-carbon economy in our review or perhaps as a lens through which to view other matters being dealt with.”

Bulmer added, “it is just a consideration that maybe there is something we can do in our official plan update.”