Councillor candidate Kim Lisgo during the second set of debates on Oct. 3 for the municipal election in Whitehorse on Oct. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Climate change isn’t a one-issue issue for council candidate

Considering climate change can address other municipal concerns, says Kim Lisgo

Kim Lisgo decided to run for Whitehorse City Council because she’s concerned about climate change.

“It’s missing from the conversation despite it being widely recognized as one of the most significant concerns with regard to health, economy and the natural environment,” she told the News.

“If I would like to see climate change on the agenda, then I need to become an even greater part of the process, which for me means stepping into the role of decision-maker.”

Lisgo, a University of Alberta researcher who has been based in the Yukon for the last six years, said climate change isn’t the sole focus of her work, but it has been part of it.

Her research has focused on conservation planning in the Canadian boreal forest. She has also worked with various levels of government, including federal, territorial, provincial, and First Nations, to apply those methods.

Just because a municipality is smaller, she doesn’t see why climate change can’t be considered a municipal issue.

Lisgo said cities are vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of the role climate plays in how cities are designed and built. Climate change can also increase the risk of wildfire and floods, and impact everything from infrastructure and energy security, to food sovereignty.

“I don’t think of climate change as a one-issue platform,” she said. “It is an everything platform.

“As a scientist, I have been trained to solve problems, think critically, observe and listen, collect evidence, be aware of my biases when making decisions, and be creative and transparent. These are skills that I can bring to any issue before Whitehorse City Council to support good decision-making.”

Lisgo wants to see bold, creative initiatives and partnerships with various organizations and levels of government that fold climate change into the way other municipal issues are addressed.

In terms of housing, she said encouraging density over sprawl is key. Not only does this kind of planning minimize the distances residents have to drive every day, it takes advantage of existing downtown infrastructure, both of which reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking at transit will solve traffic problems within the city while also fighting climate change. A more efficient system will hopefully get people out of their cars and onto buses, bike paths and walking trails. Additionally, she said the city could lobby the territorial and federal governments for rebates on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Having the city invest in renewable and geothermal energy, as well as energy storage (batteries to store the energy generated by the hydro-electric dam at night, for example) could have a huge impact, she said. So could focusing even more on waste management, including diverting organics from the landfill.

“For the city to succeed now and into the future, we will need improved engagement with citizens of all ages and businesses. Engagement is essential for fine-tuning services that the city provides and for identifying gaps. It also strengthens our community as citizens feel valued and a part of what we build together.”

The Whitehorse municipal election takes place Oct. 18.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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