Groups Ask Local Governments to Follow Through on Climate Action


(Duncan, BC; Monday August 17, 2020) Today 55 local organizations released a letter to the five local governments in the Cowichan-Ladysmith area asking them to follow through on climate action now that systems to address COVID-19 are in place. Last year local governments like Duncan, North Cowichan and the CVRD formally acknowledged the climate emergency. Then the virus hit, and attention shifted accordingly.

“While COVID-19 has prevented action on climate change in the past six months, it can no longer - we cannot let the climate crises continue to worsen at its current rate. We need government action now,” said Katia Bannister with the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians, one of the signatories to the letter.

So far 2020 has seen devastating fires in Australia, massive flooding in China, India, and Bangladesh, record-high temperatures and ice loss in the Arctic, and a stronger-than-average hurricane season emerging on the US and Canada’s Atlantic coast. Locally, while the Cowichan River has remained higher this summer than the past few years, the Koksilah River is running low, putting dairy irrigation at risk.

“Unfortunately, the climate crisis hasn’t taken a break due to COVID-19,” said Sandy McPherson of Transition Cowichan. “We thank our local governments for their good work on the virus and now ask that they extend that same urgency to reducing local emissions.”

North Cowichan is so far the only local government doing a more comprehensive analysis of its climate impacts and plans with an update to its Climate and Energy Action Plan. The letter asks all five local governments – the CVRD, Duncan, North Cowichan, Ladysmith, and Lake Cowichan – to provide a written update to the public on specific actions being taken to reduce local emissions to net zero by 2050.

Local governments that have moved forward with climate plans during the pandemic – plans aimed at net zero emissions by 2050 - include Kamloops and Halifax.

“Local governments have done good work reducing emissions in their own operations and on adapting to climate impacts, but the bulk of the problem remains unsolved,” said Jane Kilthei with One Cowichan. “They keep approving sprawling developments far from services when we need compact walkable and bike-able neighbourhoods to bring emissions down,” said Kilthei. “Local government has the jurisdiction and they need to act.”


Here is the letter sent to the Cowichan region’s five local governments:

Dear [Mayor and Council/Chair and Board]:

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to deal with the COVID-19 emergency. At times of crisis the public relies on its institutions for support and leadership. Your efforts have helped us weather and hopefully contain this particular storm.

In the face of COVID-19 it’s understandable that our attention is focused on the virus and its implications. All of us in our own ways have been forced to focus and adapt. Likewise, your government has needed to prioritize responding to this emergency.

Yet other crises continue to accelerate, including the climate crisis. Now that the virus is more under control here, we believe this is the time to catch up. Last year we were heartened that three out of five local governments declared or acknowledged the climate emergency, with the other two also making statements of support.

Today we are writing to ask for an update about how your government proposes to turn that statementinto action. What are your specific plans to reduce emissions across your local jurisdiction out in the community? What actions have you initiated in the past year? How will your government help us get to net zero emissions by 2050 in the Cowichan/Ladysmith region?

The format of that update is up to you, but we ask that it be in writing and widely available to the publicso that local citizens can both be informed and able to make an evaluation about progress.

Thank you again for your leadership.

Yours sincerely,

BC Government and Service Employees Union – Brian Gardiner
BC Farms and Food – Larry Kimmett
Botanical Bliss Herb Farm – Robin Round
Chemainus United Church – John Silins
Coast Salish Journey – Herb Rice
Council of Canadians, Cowichan Chapter – Laurel Circle
Cowichan Biodiesel Co-op – Stephanie Cerins
Cowichan Carbon Busters – Peter Nix
Cowichan District Teachers’ Association- BCTF Local 65 –Naomi Nilsson, Pres
Cowichan Energy Alternatives – Brian Roberts
Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre Society – Amy Clinton-Baker, Coordinator
Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Society – Goetz Schuerholz
Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society -Ken Traynor, Pres
Cowichan Station Area Association – Hilary Else, Pres
Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable – Parker Jefferson and Genevieve Singleton
Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians – Katia Bannister
Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society – Gail Mitchell, Co-Chair
Cowichan Women’s Health Collective – Bev Suderman, Chair
Cowichan Woodwork – Gordon Smith
Drillwell Enterprises – Shawn Slade
Duncan United Church – Rev. Keith SimmonsEight & a Half Acres – Sharon Chapman
Euphoric Juicery, Duncan – Lori Ridley
Flor and Canto Popsicles – Cowichan Bay – Natasha Ayers
For Our Kids – Cowichan – Galen Armstrong
Friends of the Cowichan – Joe Saysell
Glenora Farm – Ita Wegman Association – Tara Batho
Heart Song Flutes, Lake Cowichan – Rommy Verlaan
Ixim Food Inc – Michelle Paez
Juniper Community Solution, Cobble Hill – Kathy Code
Lila Music Centre – Cari Burdett
Matraea Centre – Kate Koyote
A Memorable Gift, Duncan – Tina Short
Michelle Rose Community Supported Fishery – Cowichan Bay – Guy Johnston
Ol’ MacDonald Farm – Cam MacDonald
One Cowichan Educational Society – Jane Kilthei
Polster Environmental Services – David Polster and Genevieve Singleton
Quamichan Lake Neighborhood Association – Marilyn Palmer
Sacred Mountain Studio – Nan Goodship and Peter Spohn
Saint Peters Anglican Church – Rev MJ Leewis
Save Our Holmes Society, Youbou – Karen Deck, Pres
Shawl Farm – Rupert Koyote

Shawnigan Basin Society – Dave Munday and Shirley Astleford
Shawnigan Lake School- Sara Blair
Silk and Stone – Loni Duncan
Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society – Paul Fletcher
Sweet Maggie’s Farm – Teri Young
Sylvan United Church – Tom Baxter, Council Chair
Transition Cowichan – Sandy McPherson
Unifor Local 1138 – Travis Gregson, Pres
Vancouver Island Providence Community Association – Tracy Parow, ED
Viridian Energy Cooperative – Don Skerik and Kuan-Jian Foo
Volunteer Cowichan – Mary Lynne Weberg, Chair
Where Do We Stand – Rob Fullerton
Wildflower Natural Health, Ladysmith – Marilyn Swallow