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

Ocean Boulevard could open after Labour Day

Colwood council expected to discuss options later this month

Sidney can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

CAO says municipality lacks legislative authority to enforce social distancing in public

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Most Read