Climate emergency declared in St. Thomas: What happens now?
ST. THOMAS, ONT. -- With a unanimous vote, city council has declared a climate emergency in St. Thomas.
After twice deferring the matter, they pushed it through Monday night, joining hundreds of other jurisdictions who have acknowledged the crisis.
"It's just the first step," says St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston. "What does this mean for us? Do any changes to the growth of the community help or hurt the environment. Local builders are building net-zero homes, that's what good planning does, that’s the municipal level of the environment."
Now that council has made that decision, the city will look at specific objectives to address climate in their strategic plan.
"We have established administrative corporate team to look at corporate business to look at how to reduce greenhouse gas," says Wendell Graves, St. Thomas city manager.
"We will be looking at all operations from transit, to energy use, to internal solid waste management practices. Anything we can do operationally to improve climate change issues."
Councillor Lori Baldwin-Sands, who pushed multiple times for this declaration, is in Toronto Tuesday at a climate conference. She is hearing from other municipalities who are presenting their asset management plans.
"It's fascinating to see what other communities are doing and how they are innovators to make this happen," says Baldwin-Sands. "They are bringing in community stakeholders and thinking outside of the box on some initiatives, in order to address the climate change emergency."
After the declaration, there was some online criticism about other, more pressing emergencies in St. Thomas.
Preston says he's aware there are many serious issues in his community.
"I'm going to be one of the best multi-taskers there is," says Preston. "Addiction, homelessness, housing and transit, which is part of the climate emergency...we'll continue to deal with them all."