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

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

Just Posted

Sidney cadet takes home gold at South Island Zone biathlon

‘Rising star’ sets her sights on provincials

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

All Carlton Cards stores closing in the coming weeks

Schurman Retail Group stores across North America will close, including 79 in Canada

Meet Arthur Heart, Oak Bay Avenue’s resident stickman

Contest winner dubs stickman Art Heart

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

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

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Island Bakery in Cobble Hill to close

Cobble Hill store in business since 1982

Man killed by police in Lytton called 911, asking to be shot: RCMP

Howard Schantz, also known as Barry Schantz was killed following a standoff at his Lytton home

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Most Read