A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted September 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – “Thank you for your leadership,” said St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik to Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley at a meeting of the Region’s council this September 23rd.
What Sendzik was thanking Bradley for was a motion the Chair tabled at the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee this past September 15th, directing Regional staff and the Council to develop and implement a climate action plan for Niagara.
That motion received final approval at full meeting of the Regional council this September 23rd, and could not come soon enough as the province, country and other parts of the world witness an unprecedented number of severe floods, droughts, killer heat waves, wildfires, wind storms and other climate-related events that are costing lives and countless billions of dollars of destruction to property and wildlife.
And closer to home, Bradley’s motion states that “the Niagara Region has already been impacted by climate change through shoreline and escarpment destruction, millions of dollars of infrastructure damages caused by extreme storm events and increase freeze–thaw cycles destroying our roads and subsurface infrastructure.”
The motion calls for Niagara’s regional staff to carry out a “fulsome review of all current and former Regional initiatives, including strategic plans, related to the management, mitigation and adaptation of climate change in Niagara.”
It also calls on our Regional government to host a “climate summit” to review possible actions and rally commitment for them across Niagara.
All of this sounds promising, and let’s hope that there are plenty of opportunities for members of the public to offer their input along the way.
Let’s also hope that one of the first thing our Regional councillors do is acknowledge the need to protect what is left of our vital natural heritage areas and approve Option 3C in a new Official Plan that is coming up for a final vote in the near future.
That option provides a higher level of protection for natural areas that scientists around the world say that we need to counter the impacts of climate change.
To all Niagara residents who have not done so already, please urge your directly elected Regional Councillors and the Mayors of your local municipalities who also sit on the Region’s council to vote for Option 3C when the draft for a new Official Plan is back on the table.
It is also vital that our municipal leaders move to say ‘NO’ to some of those proposals members of the development industry put on the table before this pandemic set in to pave over rich natural areas in Niagara like Waverly Woods in Fort Erie and Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls.
Evidence documented by climate experts around the world concludes that we can no longer afford to gut woodland and wetland areas so vital to sustaining an environment healthy enough to combat life-threatening disease and climate change.
So yes, thank you Jim Bradley for your leadership on this and now we look forward to working on an effective plan and putting it into action.
In the wake of a bombshell report issued by the United Nations this past August – one that had climate experts delivering a “Code Red warning” to the world – we have no time to waste Niagara.
We have got to treat this crisis with the upmost seriousness for the sake of present and future generations.
Below is the full wording of Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s climate action motion. –
WHEREAS the Region Council recognizes that climate change is a real and significant threat to both Niagara’s natural environment and economy;
WHEREAS the Niagara Region has already been impacted by climate change through shoreline and escarpment destruction, millions of dollars of infrastructure damages caused by extreme storm events and increase freeze–thaw cycles destroying our roads and subsurface infrastructure;
WHEREAS the Niagara Region’s agriculture sector struggles with irrigation challenges that are linked to drought-like conditions caused by climate change;
WHEREAS the Niagara Region recognizes all the existing, albeit fragmented, climate change work that has occurred across all Regional departments;
WHEREAS the Niagara Region recognizes that all levels of government, including municipalities, have a crucial role to play in the mitigation and adaption of climate change; WHEREAS many municipalities across Ontario have formal strategies to manage climate change, investing resources to help combat the effects of extreme weather in their communities;
WHEREAS the Niagara Region recognizes that addressing climate action and transitioning to lower-carbon options represents an important opportunity for economic stimulation and job growth;
WHEREAS a 2020 study conducted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) found that climate adaptation costs Canadian municipalities and estimated $5.3 billion annually, including significant increases in insurance premiums related to the impacts of extreme weather;
WHEREAS the same FCM report found that investments in resilient infrastructure have a return on investment of $6 in future averted losses for every $1 spent proactively;
WHEREAS a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated a need for a massive reduction in carbon emissions by 45%, reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in order to have a reasonable chance of keeping global warming to 1.5C and maintaining a climate compatible with human civilization; and
WHEREAS a recent United Nations (UN) report on climate change found that while human behaviour has unequivocally warmed the planet and climate changes are happening more rapidly, there is still a window in which human can alter their path. 29 PDS-C 50-2021 September 15, 2021
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
1. That Regional Council DIRECT staff to conduct a fulsome review of all current and former Regional initiatives, including strategic plans, related to the management, mitigation and adaptation of climate change in Niagara;
2. That Regional Council DIRECT staff to research municipal best practices across Ontario related to community and corporate mitigation and adaptation of climate change;
3. That Regional Council DIRECT staff to provide a report outlining their findings and develop a program proposal, including the immediate 2022 budgetary impacts, to address corporate and community climate mitigation and adaptation to a future Planning & Economic Development Committee meeting; and
4. That Niagara Region DIRECT staff to organize and host a climate summit for the purpose of evaluating best practices, coordinating climate action and ensuring all of Niagara is committed to climate change adaptation and mitigation, by the end of 2 2022.
To read a piece Niagara At large posted this past August on the Code Red warning from climate scientists around the world, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2021/08/09/united-nations-sends-a-code-red-warning-to-the-world-on-climate-crisis/
To read two of the reports Niagara At Large posted this spring on the need for Regional councillors to approve Option 3C in the Region’s new Official Plan, click on the links below –
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