Black and blue carts were delivered to Red Deer households last spring — one of the solid environmental actions that Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said the city is taking. (Advocate file photo).

No ‘climate emergency’ for Red Deer — Mayor says council prefers action to symbolic moves

Crime reduction is of more concern to city residents, says councillor

Crime, not climate change, is the biggest scourge for Red Deer residents, says a city councillor who can’t see following Edmonton and Canmore’s example and declaring a climate crisis.

“My personal position is that we have much bigger fish to fry in our community, with the obvious and critical need to mitigate crime and social disorder issues that continue to plague our residents,” said Coun. Vesna Higham.

Ongoing complaints city councillors are hearing about break-ins and thefts fuelled by drug addiction have affirmed Higham’s belief that city council needs to fully focus on cracking down on crime “social disorder” in the community.

She noted the city already has an updated environmental master plan that considers a broader scope of “climate sensitive issues” than what municipalities are technically mandated to contemplate under the Municipal Government Act.

Meanwhile, global protests about government and industry failures to deal with the unnatural warming trend scientists are warning about have prompted many other communities — including Edmonton and Canmore — to declared a “climate emergency” to focus attention on the need for greenhouse gas reduction.

Calgary has not made a similar declaration and several councillors in Alberta’s largest city consider it an alarmist and showy move.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said this city would rather take meaningful, decisive action on climate change, rather than make symbolic gestures.

She noted many measures from the recently updated environmental action plan are being adopted — and these are making a real difference.

They include installing LED street lights that have reduced energy consumption by 50 per cent; launching the full CART program, which is lowering landfilled waste by 62 per cent; and fuelling transit buses with compressed natural gas to cut down on harmful emissions.

The whole Red Deer transit system is also being overhauled to create more efficiencies, so large buses don’t drive around the city carrying only a few passengers, said the mayor.

“We are taking necessary actions instead of symbolic gestures … in response to community feedback.”

Coun Lawrence Lee believes many municipalities don’t think they are impacted by climate change — until there’s a flood or wildfire.

He’s troubled about it on a personal level, but doesn’t believe global warming can be tackled by municipalities without a full partnership with provincial and federal governments.

Climate change came up at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference in Edmonton, and Lee said he will ensure the matter is discussed at the next Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting as well.

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