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City to put “lens” on financial impacts of climate change

Motion calls for Oshawa to declare “emergency” to protect local wildlife, natural environment and economy

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

A motion asking the city to consider the financial impacts of climate change was solidly supported with only two dissenting voters.

The motion, brought forth by Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri to the city’s finance committee, calls for Oshawa to declare climate change “as an emergency for the purpose of protecting wildlife, and [the city’s natural environment and economy].”

Marimpietri also wants the municipality to put the “lens” of climate change on its strategic plans and future budgets.

The final resolution asks for the motion to be sent to surrounding municipalities, regional council, MPPs and MPs.

Marimpietri said it is “incumbent” on council to “look at climate change and recognize that it exists.”

“Scientists across the world are coming forward with information on a daily basis,” he said. “With catastrophic events that have occurred over the last number of years, I think it’s important we put a lens on it.”

Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson applauded the motion.

He said many people see climate change as “global in scale,” and therefore doesn’t have local impacts.

One particular issue locally is the erosion of lands near Lake Ontario.

“We’re having homes which are being threatened of falling into the lake because the land they are located on is being eroded,” Nicholson said.

However, Nicholson said he didn’t want the city to use climate change as a way to “bludgeon” existing industry.

Mayor Dan Carter said Oshawa already has many initiatives to address energy efficiency, and it will be a lead many other municipalities follow.

“[This motion] raises our profile and asks us to be accountable in what we’re doing,” Carter said.

However, Ward 5 city councillor John Gray spoke in opposition to the motion.

He noted when it comes to climate change, he doesn’t see “urgency, just a lot of fear-mongering.”

“Too many things get ascribed to climate change and fear-mongering, and it’s responsible,” Gray said. “It doesn’t seem a whole lot of science in climate fear, it’s politics.”

When the motion was brought forward to city council on Dec. 16, Gray again spoke against it.

He noted carbon dioxide has been labelled as “the new evil.”

He believes most of the “hysteria” surrounding climate change comes from the media and politicians.

Ward 4 city and regional councillor Rick Kerr had some issue with terming climate change as “an emergency.”

“This is such a complicated thing… I can’t support it in the way of saying the sky is falling,” he said.

Kerr’s ward counterpart Derek Giberson said people should be careful when deeming carbon dioxide “poisonous.”

But he said there’s a “clear scientific consensus” that human activity has a direct impact on the rise of carbon dioxide levels worldwide.

“On the record, we know that global average temperatures are rising. It’s not a political opinion, it’s not a media opinion, it’s a scientific fact,” he added.

Nicholson argued that it didn’t really matter what or who is the cause.

“The reality is our climate is changing in Oshawa, and you just have look outside your window,” Nicholson said. “The type of climate we had 10 to 15 years ago is not the same as it is today.”

Council voted down a motion from Ward 3 city and regional Councillor Bob Chapman to refer the motion to the city’s environmental advisory committee.

Marimpietri made a plea to deal with the issue immediately.

His original motion was passed by a nine to two vote, with Gray and Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey opposed.