City councillor wants climate emergency declared

Brian White watches the returns come in at Sarnia City Hall October 27, 2014 ( photo by Lindsay Hendrikx)

Sarnia City Council will be asked to declare a climate emergency when it meets Monday, June 17.

Councillor Brian White is tabling a motion calling on the municipality to make a declaration that immediate action is needed at the local level, as well as nationally and internationally.

He said the city should state on the public record that it takes climate change seriously.

“It adds that extra lens when we’re considering policies when we’re doing life cycle assessments or new amenities,” said White. “Whether we’re looking at procurement, whether we’re looking at the longevity of the things that we’re building as a community, it gives us all kinds of opportunities to put the climate, and the reality that we’re facing every day first and foremost.”

White said, as the largest city on the Canadian side of Lake Huron, there is a serious responsibility to protect the clean drinking water because any impact on that affects millions of people on both the U.S. and Canadian side.

Climate Action Sarnia and the Sarnia Sustainability Ambassadors support White’s call for a climate emergency declaration. The activist group held a media availability Tuesday afternoon in advance of council’s June 17 meeting.

White said preliminary findings from a United Nations investigation into dangerous substances and waste in Canada, clearly indicates that issues need to be addressed.

The report said the condition of Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, surrounded on three sides by over 60 industrial facilities, is deeply unsettling. It called the environmental injustice an “ongoing tragedy, a legacy of land use planning that would not be allowed today.”

White is a member of the city’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples working group.

“We’ll be able to take that report and find better ways to apply the realities that we face every day here, making sure that the voice of our local First Nations is first and foremost,” he said.

-With files from Colin Gowdy