Coun. Steve Roddick announces changes to his climate change emergency motion during a council meeting in Whitehorse on Sept. 23, shortly before Mayor Dan Curtis announces a climate change emergency in Whitehorse. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

What’s next for Whitehorse after declaring a climate change emergency?

The city plans to complete two self-assessments as part of its climate declaration

The City of Whitehorse has declared a climate change emergency… so now what?

In voting to declare climate change as an emergency at its Sept. 23 meeting, council also passed, as part of the motion, resolutions that will see it use tools available through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to assess where it’s at as council members look ahead to the next review of its strategic priorities.

Coun. Steve Roddick, who brought forward the motion to declare a climate change emergency, also brought forward the motions that the city assess where it stands in responding to climate change and that council use the next update of its strategic priorities to update and identify actions for the city to take.

That will let the city “use tools in the toolbox,” he said, emphasizing the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Climate Adaptation Maturity Scale self-assessment and Municipal GHG Emissions Reduction Maturity Scale self-assessment will allow the city to gain a full understanding of where it’s at.

Administration will review the results of the assessments along with the city’s mitigation and adaptation priorities already in place and report back to council ahead of the next strategic priorities update.

Council is expected to update its strategic priorities next year with climate change now set to be looked at as part of that update.

Essentially, Roddick said, the move will see two assessments done. A report on that work and the results will then be produced for council ahead of the strategic priorities being looked at.

Both the climate adaptation and GHG emissions reduction scales are available on the FCM website.

The climate adaptation scale is designed to explore readiness and progress in adapting to climate change. It looks in detail at policy, human resources and governance, and technical and risk management capacity as both concepts and outcomes.

Check boxes throughout the document allow a municipality to state whether it has met or is working on various levels –concept, preliminary, implementation, operational and continuous improvement – in each category.

Developing guidelines and criteria for local or regional adaptation initiatives, for example, is listed as preliminary level work with validating and refining corporate service and adaptation objectives based on community needs seen as a continuous improvement level.

Meanwhile, the maturity scale on greenhouse gas emission reduction moves from a concept level to five milestones on the topics of governance, roles and responsibilities and stakeholder engagement before also looking at the technical side.

Among the technical aspects are data and performance management, technical tools, and economic considerations.

Concept level work would include things like collecting data for an emissions inventory while an example of a milestone 5 effort would be fully-funded GHG emissions reduction activities with processes in place to assess new emission reduction opportunities.

While the resolution did not set a specific timeline for city staff to complete the self-assessments, the anticipated review of the strategic priorities will happen sometime in 2020.

The self-assessments and follow-up report would be done ahead of that.

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

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