Creston’s mayor says opposition to the town’s climate action plan appears to be based on misinformation and coming partly from people who don’t actually live there.
Arnold DeBoon spoke following a packed committee of the whole meeting last week.
DeBoon says the meeting was so full, they had to turn away some to meet safety regulations.
“We reminded them this was a meeting with an open gallery, not an open house.”
The agenda included a summary of public consultation on the climate action plan and staff will now revisit the recommendations.
DeBoon says more than half of those who attended were not Creston residents, so would not be affected by the plan.
“The plan is specific to the town. The people affected would be residents of the town and property owners of Creston. It’s a different climate plan that I think some people wanted to address, which is the RDCK plan.”
That being said, comments being given were “against a climate action plan.”
“But I could say quite confidently, I did not hear, none of us heard any specific concerns about any of the recommendations that are in our plan.”
DeBoon says the 65-page document requires some reading “in depth and maybe a few times to digest”.
“When people are protesting climate action, the first thing they need to do is take a good look at what’s in the plan,” said DeBoon.
“Our plan is to reduce carbon emissions in the Town of Creston by residents and by the town itself. The steps we are taking are a lot of practical steps, steps that will save people on their energy bills, steps to encourage people to walk and ride their bicycles.”
He says it is a long-term plan and not one that will be immediately implemented.
DeBoon says it will encourage the use of electric vehicles, but not pass laws to make them mandatory, which Creston would need a more powerful grid for.
“A lot of what we’re talking about in climate action are progressive steps, but these are voluntary steps. We’re not passing laws and making it punitive for people not to comply with it.”
DeBoon says it seems like misinformation and misunderstandings spread on social media are possibly at fault for the pushback.
“People are opposed, more or less, to the words ‘climate action’ and ‘carbon reduction’. But, they need to analyze the steps that are being taken, see how it affects them, see what’s acceptable and what works for them, and over time allow us to work on making adjustments to reduce carbon emissions.”
“There’s a lot of information on social media which is not really applicable, especially to the town’s plan. And it concerns me that a great deal of people want to address this by the misinformation, rather than the facts.”
To battle the possible confusion surrounding the town’s plan, DeBoon says they will continue to hammer out the details and have more public consultation.
However, the town will be adopting the climate action plan.
“We’re handing off our community, at some point, to future generations, and we need to take these things seriously so that things don’t get worse. It’s a global problem, so even with us taking a few steps here, it probably won’t solve it completely. But by taking these steps, we show leadership. And there are many communities that are doing the same thing.”