Bayside Middle School’s Youth Action Group (from left) Josephine Hill, Ellaina Coley, Nia Frazer, Anika McCandlish, Taiya Steel, Tessa Hunter-Siebert, Kali Cooper, Norah Hood. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Bayside Middle School’s Youth Action Group (from left) Josephine Hill, Ellaina Coley, Nia Frazer, Anika McCandlish, Taiya Steel, Tessa Hunter-Siebert, Kali Cooper, Norah Hood. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Youth activism pushes Central Saanich to declare ‘climate emergency’

Following moving presentation and youth strikes, council unanimously agrees

In a March council meeting, Coun. Zeb King put forward a motion for Central Saanich to declare a climate emergency, but it received short shrift. This week, just two months later and to the delight of campaigners, the motion was unanimously passed.

So what caused the shift in position? The answer appears to be youth activism. Since the turn of the year, there have been three school strikes on climate change, an Extinction Rebellion demonstration in Victoria and globally coordinated youth protests. But what sealed the deal seems to have been the work of local students.

RELATED: Next generation calls on Central Saanich to issue ‘climate emergency’

Coun. Niall Paltiel, who was initially against declaring a climate emergency, explains how the council went from lukewarm to unanimously endorsing the motion.

“We had a very moving presentation from a delegation of students from Bayside Middle School and Stelly’s Secondary urging Central Saanich council to work at regional, provincial and federal levels to find mutual ground where we can work together to address the impacts of climate change.”

“Ultimately, one thing that drove me to support the motion was reflecting on the fact these young people are speaking emphatically about the need to do more. One of the reasons I ran and am on council is I acknowledge the current challenges we’re facing today.”

King, who has been a strong supporter of environmental issues throughout his tenure on council says it was a struggle to maintain his composure listening to the students.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria youth rally around no-user-fee transit idea

“It touched me very much,” he notes, “I think it had a clear impact on the declaration. From not much traction to now a shift and a unanimous declaration. I think it was probably an accumulation of things, like the students threatening strikes around the world and people realizing we need to act.”

Activists have credited the councillors for listening to their constituents and having the bravery to change their minds, but say more is still to be done. King tabled ten motions, one calling for the emergency declaration and the other nine detailing how Central Saanich could counter climate change. The emergency declaration motion was passed, but the other nine motions were referred back to committee; meaning while they haven’t been rejected outright, they are some way from being passed.

ALSO READ: Victoria youth continue to strike for climate justice

These motions include requests to work towards carbon neutrality by 2030, amend the Climate Leadership Plan, request the CRD does more to combat planet warming gasses, and for more powers and resources from the provincial and federal governments.

“It’s like our house is on fire,” says King wryly. “We’ve realized and said ‘Our house is on fire, it’s an emergency,’ but instead of putting it out, we’re doing other things.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Climate change

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

Just Posted

An employee at Sidney’s Thrifty Foods tested positive for COVID-19, the parent company Sobeys posted on its website Wednesday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
COVID-19 case reported at Sidney grocery store

Thrifty Foods employee last worked at the store April 3

Despite a staff recommendation supporting for what would have been Sidney’s third retail location for recreational cannabis, council signalled its opposition to the application by a vote of 5-2. The proposed store would have been located in the 9700-block on Third Street sharing space with other businesses. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney rejects proposal for third cannabis location in community

Application from Jima Cannabis to open a store in 9700-block of Third Street goes down by 5-2 vote

A Sooke man died Tuesday afternoon after his car left the roadway in 7500-block of West Coast Road around 1:30 p.m. and hit a tree. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke man dies in Tuesday crash on West Coast Road

The man’s SUV left the roadway and struck a tree

Madison soaks up the sunshine with her family at at Langford Lake on April 5. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Langford residents hit the beach

Environment Canada predicting temperatures into the low 20s this weekend

(Black Press Media file photo)
Privacy concerns keep COVID-19 cases at University of Victoria off the record

Island Health, UVic not sharing specifics after internal notice confirms coronavirus case

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

One of the grand prizes for this year's Hometown Heroes Lottery includes a seaside home at SookePoint, $1.5 million, and an Audi Quattro. (Photo courtesy of Hometown Heroes)
Hometown Heroes Lottery features seaside home in Sooke

A stunning seaside home in Sooke could be yours for the price… Continue reading

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along the highway in Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read