Residents of the RDCK will have four months of opportunities to comment on the regional government’s plans to adapt and respond to climate change.
Staff at the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) announced a redesigned climate action engagement process based on feedback it received from the community.
The RDCK’s Climate Action Plan was on the agenda to be adopted in the spring, but pushback from some residents prompted directors to allow for more public engagement before they consider adoption of the plan.
The Climate Action Plan lists nearly 100 actions and initiatives the regional government plans to take (or is currently taking) to adapt to climate change. That includes supporting better public and active transportation options, reducing GHG emissions from waste production, supporting electrification of the RDCK’s vehicle fleet, encouraging electric vehicle ownership, supporting the transition to new provincial building code standards for energy efficiency, promoting water conservation and monitoring, and supporting Firesmart programs to build community resilience to wildfire.
However, some residents were concerned about the cost and impact of the plan. Some raised concerns about government overreach, limits allegedly being made to freedom, property rights, and the cost of electrification and new building codes. There were also rumours circulating of world government surveillance and mobility control, new taxes and bylaws, taking people’s fossil-fuel vehicles away and even forbidding compost piles. And some residents don’t see the need for the plan because they don’t believe that climate change is a problem at all.
In response, the RDCK planned a series of meetings over the summer to address residents’ concerns, but online statements called into question the safety and security of RDCK staff.
So staff went back to the drawing board and has come up with this new round of engagement opportunities. “The RDCK community has emphasized the need for transparency and open communication. We have heard you,” a news release states. “We have streamlined the ways the public can get involved, both in-person and online, to provide feedback and influence the proposed Climate Action Plan.”
From July to October, the mix of in-person and online engagements are an opportunity for residents to review all the information and actions, provide feedback, and interact with RDCK staff on how best to strengthen community resilience.
“We value your input and want to ensure everyone has a chance to participate. There is opportunity for all residents to join the conversation,” the news release states. “We are reviewing all feedback, compiling it, and will report it to the community and RDCK board. Your feedback will be presented to the board before the plan is considered for adoption.”
The engagement opportunities planned include:
• Dialogue circles — This August, the RDCK will be hosting in-person dialogue circles, reaching out to community members with diverse viewpoints, seeking to learn more about the various issues and concerns being faced by communities.
• Open houses — Over a two-month period between August and October, the RDCK will host 20 in-person open houses to engage in thoughtful, constructive dialogue across all 11 electoral areas and nine municipalities in the district. These open houses will include panel discussions on key plan actions such as transportation, land use, food, agriculture, and water.
• Online webinars — Many of the webinars have already occurred but one more on July 24 will be about emergency, floods and geohazards.
These webinars will be recorded and available as reference after the event.
• Subject meetings — The RD also plans in-person meetings focused on some of the key actions pathways, including transportation, land use, food and agriculture, and water. The intent is to have panels with community representatives, local subject experts, non-profit organizations, and interested individuals, with more details to come.
• Other online opportunities — The RDCK also says residents can keep informed by visiting its climate action webpage or events calendar page. Updates can also be found on the RDCK’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The Climate Action project page online public engagement platform https://engage.rdck.ca/ launched July 14. For more information and background on climate action go to www.rdck.ca/climateaction.