The following letter has been sent to all five Cowichan municipal governments - the CVRD, Duncan, North Cowichan, Ladysmith, and Lake Cowichan.
July 3, 2019
Dear Mayor and Council/Chair and Board:
We are writing to ask you to dramatically accelerate your government’s response to climate change.
A recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that we need to about halve our emissions over the next decade if we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, many impacts are already “baked in” by past emissions, as we are already experiencing in Cowichan. One example is our now almost annual and increasingly severe drought conditions.
Local government is where the rubber hits the road on climate change. Land use decisions made by local councils determine our rural-urban-suburban form and resulting energy use, particularly for transportation which comprises our largest block of emissions here in the Cowichan Region. Board and Council decisions also help determine how much stored carbon is left on the landscape in trees and soils.
On the adaptation side, local governments deal with climate impacts such as increased drought and flooding. Our municipal infrastructure was built based on conditions that are now shifting rapidly. The need for increased water storage at Lake Cowichan and to respond to the stresses of increased droughts in other watersheds are good examples of this.
Municipalities across Canada have been recognizing the urgency of their role in climate change by declaring a “climate emergency” and directing staff to bring to council options for stepping up efforts across the board, from land use to transportation to biological carbon storage. We encourage you to follow suit: Declare a Climate Emergency and follow through to take our community from options to positive changes actually rolling out on the ground. Since these issues cut across communities, we encourage you to work together at the CVRD table and with your counterparts across the Cowichan region.
We also acknowledge that climate change raises a serious climate justice issue in our Region. The most vulnerable among us will be most affected. Increasing stresses on local watersheds mean that First Nations already bear a disproportionate impact due to losses in their food fishery. Given the location of reserves, First Nations are also more vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise, putting even further pressure on an already desperate housing situation. As we work together to find our way forward on Reconciliation in our community, we need to be mindful of how climate change affects that conversation.
The good news is that stepping up our climate efforts is consistent with building a more livable, resilient community. We will breathe cleaner air in more walkable and affordable neighbourhoods with better water conservation. Ultimately, how we respond to climate change will determine how we decide to relate to one another as neighbours. We urge to you act boldly, as the hour is late.
BC Government and Service Employees Union - Brian Gardiner
BC Farms and Food – Larry Kimmett
Chemainus Residents Association – Lia Versaevel
Chemainus United Church – John Silins
Coast Salish Journey – Herb Rice
Council of Canadians, Cowichan Chapter – Laurel Circle
Cowichan Carbon Busters – Peter Nix
The Cowichan Biodiesel Co-op – Brian Roberts, Pres.
Cowichan District Teachers’ Association – BCTF Local 65 – Erica Roberts, Pres.
Cowichan Energy Alternatives – Adam Creek, Pres.
The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre Society – Alicia Taylor
Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Society – Goetz Schuerholz
Cowichan Housing Association – John Horn, Executive Director
The Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society – Ken Traynor, Pres.
The Cowichan Station Area Association – Hilary Else, Pres.
Cowichan Valley Naturalists – Gail Mitchell
Cowichan Valley Garden Club – Jean Haley
The Cowichan Watershed Board – Chief Chip Seymour and Ian Morrison, co-chairs
Cowichan Woodwork – Gordon Smith
Duncan United Church – Rev. Keith Simmonds
Earth Guardians, Cowichan Valley – Sierra Robinson
Extinction Rebellion Cowichan – Marilyn Swallow
Friends of the Cowichan – Joe Saysell
Funky Frog Bed and Breakfast, Maple Bay – Veronica Haits
Glenora Farm, Ita Wegman Association - Andrew Rushmere
Juniper Community Solutions, Cobble Hill – Kathy Code
Lila Music Centre – Cari Burdett
Matraea Centre – Rupert Koyote
A Memorable Gift, Duncan – Tim Short
Michelle Rose Community Supported Fishery, Cowichan Bay – Guy Johnston
Mill Bay Fire Department – David Slade
Ol’ MacDonald Farm – Cam MacDonald
One Cowichan Education Society – Jane Kilthei
Polster Environmental Services – David Polster and Genevieve Singleton
Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) Local 2 – Lynn Lindeman, Pres.
Quamichan Lake Neighborhood Association – Marilyn Palmer
Raincoast Aquaponics – Adrian Southern
Sacred Mountain Studio – Nan Goodship and Peter Spohn
Saint Peters Anglican Church – Rev. MJ Leewis
Save Our Holmes Society, Youbou – Karen Deck, Pres.
Shawnigan Basin Society – Dave Munday, Pres.
Shawnigan Lake School – Sara Blair
The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society – Paul Fletcher
Sylvan United Church, Mill Bay – Tom Baxter, Council Chair
Transition Cowichan – Sandy McPherson
Unifor Local 1138 – Travis Gregson, Pres.
Viridian Energy Cooperative – Don Skerik
Volunteer Cowichan – Linda Roseneck
Where Do We Stand – Rob Fullerton