Two delegates in support of Coun. Steve Roddick’s climate change emergency proposal, Erica Mah, left, and Jenny George, sit upset and in tears while another delegate speaks against the proposal during a regular city council meeting in Whitehorse on June 17. George, a teacher, said she is feeling scared for the future of her son and her students. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Possible climate change declaration delayed a week

The motion will now come forward June 24

It will be another week before there’s any sort of Whitehorse city council debate and a vote on the possibility of declaring a climate change emergency for the city.

Coun. Steve Roddick put forward a notice of motion June 11 calling for the city to join a number of other jurisdictions in declaring a climate change emergency.

It was expected the proposal would be discussed at council’s June 17 meeting ahead of the June 24 vote, but as Roddick told many who gathered in the gallery of council chambers on the motion, there is some confusion over debate procedure.

City manager Linda Rapp explained two sections of the council procedures bylaw were in question. One states that once a motion is moved and seconded debate can happen. Another section specifically on notices of motion states that while a notice may come forward at a standing committee meeting where issues are discussed (as the June 17 meeting was) ahead of a vote at a regular meeting, it can not be dealt with at that meeting.

The two sections led to confusion. Ultimately, members decided that it was best to put off discussion and a decision until next week, Roddick explained.

While city council was talking procedure, a motion was also passed in Canada’s House of Commons declaring a climate change emergency for the nation.

Whitehorse council members did not get to discuss the city motion, but members heard from about a half dozen delegates, nearly all who spoke in favour of the declaration with some also voicing their support for a ban on single-use plastic bags in Whitehorse as one way of addressing climate change.

The delegates highlighted the importance of taking action, some noting with emotion the difficulty they and others have sleeping at night as they contemplate the state of the world.

Erica Mah, who organized the Green New Deal session at NorthLight Innovation Centre (part of a series of town halls happening across the country), said the city is doing a lot to address climate change, but it is also in the position to do a lot more. She was pointed to the drafting of a new Official Community Plan as an example.

“What a critical 20 years to be planning as a government,” she said.

Others also voiced support for the declaration, but stressed it’s the action coming from the declaration that will make the difference.

“The world is choking in plastic right now,” Jody Overduin said, calling for the ban on single-use plastic bags that Barbara Drury had put forward.

Such a ban, Drury said, would force people to remember to bring alternatives to the store when they shop.

Recalling her own experience in trying to cut down on plastic, she suggested it could have a ripple effect as people begin looking at ways to cut back on using plastic.

With the federal government considering a ban on single-use plastics for 2021, she said such a move by the city would be timely.

One delegate, however, argued any such ban will have little, if any, impact.

Robert Deklerk pointed to an opinion piece published June 14 in the National Post, which argued such a ban in Canada would not make much of a difference, as Canada is not a significant marine polluter.

He was also pointed to the use of plastic in many facets of life — vehicles, electronics and more, arguing society will never be rid of plastic.

Council will discuss and vote on Roddick’s motion declaring a climate change emergency for the city June 24.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Climate changeWhitehorse city council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A competitor takes a jump in front of a crowd at the Mount Sima Up Hill Challenge in Whitehorse on April 17. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Spring shred: Snowmobiles gather on Mount Sima for 2021 Uphill Challenge

Riders had a sunny and warm day on the hill, but still plenty of snowpack on the uphill course.

Sheila MacLean tosses her winter blues in the fire to be burned away in Whitehorse on March 24, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Burning permits will be revoked April 25

The Whitehorse Fire Department extended the open burning season

Maura Forrest/Yukon News File photos from Beaver Creek White River First Nation
Bessie Chassé elected as new chief of White River First Nation

“I was happy that the membership saw that I was ready for this position.”

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 21, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Yukon MP Larry Bagnell speaks at an announcement in Whitehorse on July 8, 2019.
Federal budget includes changes to Northern Residents Deduction, minimum wage, green energy funds

The massive budget included some rare references to the territory.

Doug Bell photographed in Whitehorse in 2008, for an article about his role as Yukon Commissioner in the early 1980’s. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon remembers former commissioner Doug Bell

Bell passed away in Whitehorse on Sunday, at the age of 94.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Most Read