Saanich will join a global alliance of more than 10,000 municipalities taking a stand against climate change but not everyone is happy about it.
On May 11, council unanimously agreed to join the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – launched at the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014 – and send letters to other B.C. mayors asking them to consider joining.
The goal is to show the rest of the world “the great work Saanich has done over the past 20 years” and emphasize the need to do more, said Mayor Fred Haynes who brought the request to council alongside Coun. Susan Brice.
Haynes was pleased with council’s decision but acknowledged he was “bewildered by the cynicism” in negative feedback he heard from residents.
Some questioned the decision to focus on climate change during the COVID-19 pandemic and others were confused about Saanich joining a climate action alliance after pausing its accelerated climate plan when cutting the tax increase for 2020, he said.
The pandemic has shifted the attention away from the climate crisis and onto the health and financial crisis the world is facing, Haynes said, adding that joining the Global Covenant of Mayors is a way to highlight the need to address all three crises.
“I’m a bit perplexed that people don’t see the need to balance addressing all of these,” Haynes said.
He acknowledged that there is a need to do more but emphasized Saanich is already “in the leadership pack” when it comes to climate action and he feels signing on to the covenant is not undermined by Saanich’s decision not to move forward with the accelerated climate plan this year.
Haynes added that it’s “inaccurate” to assume Saanich has stopped working on climate change entirely as the District’s prior action is ongoing. He said joining the Global Covenant of Mayors is a “no-cost” way for Saanich to continue to address climate change and encourage action.