“Declaring a climate emergency clearly states the NPCA’s intention to address this urgent issue.”
By Doug Draper
Posted July 18th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
In the wake of what clearly now looks like a higher frequency of damaging rain, wind, wildfires and other climate-related episodes, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has joined the cities of St. Catharines and Hamilton, and growing numbers of other public bodies across Canada and around the world in declaring a “climate emergency.”
A motion to make the declaration, tabled by Ed Smith, a community activist recently appointed to the NPCA board by St. Catharines’ city council with the blessing of Niagara’s regional council, received approval at a full meeting of the board this July 17th.
In a separate motion this July 17th, the board also approved working with municipal bodies and other parties in Niagara, Hamilton and Haldimand (the three regions sharing a Niagara watershed the NPCA has jurisdiction over, on developing and implementing a “Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan over the remainder of this year and next.
With the July 17th’s passage of a climate emergency declaration, the NPCA now joins about 800 other public bodies around the world in making such a declaration since what has become a global movement was initiated by climate activists in the Melbourne, Australia area three years ago.
Jackie Oblak, a citizen activist with years of experience working with other Conservation Authorities in the province on plans to address climate change, was among those who spoke to the NPCA board in support of Smith’s motion.
“Declaring a climate emergency clearly states the NPCA’s intention to address this urgent issue,” stated Oblak in a written message to the board.
“Following this declaration with immediate actions such as forming a climate change advisory committee, tasked with clearly identified responsibilities and timelines,” added Oblak, “will provide assurances that the issue will be addressed in an effective, timely manner and provides substance to the declaration.”
Oblak stressed during her presentation that compared to even a decade or two ago, it has become clear these days that things are rapidly changing with the climate and “I think we need to get (a plan for addressing that change) moving.”
Robert Foster, a Lincoln regional councillor sitting on the NPCA board for the town, stressed the important of approving the declaration as one more way of to make it “very clear that we take (the climate issue) seriously.” The full text of the motion the NPCA board approved this July 17th reads as follows –
WHEREAS climate change is a threat to the citizens of the NPCA watershed, and
WHEREAS climate change is a threat to the natural environment of our watershed, and
WHEREAS climate change is a threat to the built environment of our watershed, and
WHEREAS climate change is a threat to the agriculture of our watershed, and
WHEREAS Canada and 194 other nations signed the Paris Climate Accord in 2015: and
WHEREAS Canada has declared a national climate emergency which in part states, “climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity”, and
WHEREAS the United Nations and many other scientific agencies report that human activity is the main cause of global climate change; and
WHEREAS the Conservation Authorities Act states “an authority shall provide…Programs and services related to the risk of natural hazards”
WHEREAS recommendations 7 and 8 of the Auditor General of Ontario’s Special Audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority speak directly to recommendations related to flood risks and natural hazards
WHEREAS the NPCA is a lead environmental institution for the people of our watershed, and
WHEREAS action is needed to develop climate risk mitigation and climate risk adaptation strategies, policies, and procedures
WHEREAS there is no Planet B
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority declares a climate emergency and recognizes the need to take action that will contribute to the mitigation and adaptation of the effects of climate change throughout our watershed.
Niagara At Large will have much more to report on this as the NPCA’s work, in tandem with other parties across the Niagara watershed, on developing and implementing a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan unfolds.
To review the full agenda for the NPCA’s July 17th board meeting, including reports on climate change and other matters, click on – https://npca.ca/images/uploads/board_files/0.0_Complete_Agenda_21090717_.pdf .
For an up-to-date list of who is now sitting on the NPCA board, click on – https://npca.ca/administration/board-members
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