Stratford’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency, you’ll remember, was made in February 2020. Very little has been accomplished since then. Two climate coordinators have collaborated on a climate action plan, But both have now left, and the City voted in January to budget for a third. We should hear more about this in June.
At the March meeting, Councillor Burbach noted that the Climate Action Workiing Group has now met twice, and has set up a schedule of goals. She has forwarded this information to committee members. When I learn what these are, I will post them here.
The Official Plan review is underway, but there seems to be no attention paid to Secondary Plans. The committtee made a motion to recommend to Council to conduct a formal review of the Secondary Plans and make recommendations for revisions.
Councillor Burbach also noted that Council has discussed the 5-year update to City development standards, and she hopes that will include an update of development charges. She has also asked about adding incentives for greener standards, but apparently has not made a formal motion to Council.
The committee agreed to put together a list of possible amendments for Council that will be compatible with the Ontario Building code, and also make a presentation to the Stratford and Area Builder’s Association. E&E could also hold a special meeting for the Climate Action Plan internal working group to discuss the information put forward by Chris Higgins earlier in the meeting. No motions were made on these suggestions.
It was bound to happen. A Council who brought us the chaos of the RNG Plant, who worked behind closed doors to annex 175 acres of farmland in pretty dodgy circumstances, and who privately negotiated a polluting deal with a glass factory while publicly signing a declaration of climate emergency has finally received the national attention it deserves.
Our Coucil has been recognized by Ryerson University as the nation’s “most secretive” municipal body. How can they top this?
There has been much delay and indecision in hiring climate coordinators in Stratford. The last coordinator, Rebecca Garlick, was unsure of her position during much of her tenure, and finally left. The contract renewal of our present coordinator, Amara Kartick, was left hanging until a motion was put forward in early January. She has decided to join the private sector. Good luck, Amara.
As we take time for family and the Holidays, we know we are under the shadow of something that could permanently change our town.
I hope this will not come to pass, and I think we need to consider the root cause of this threat. It’s not a mayor with political aspirations, and it’s not a weak and easily bullied council. It’s not even a predatory and reckless provincial government who will sell anything to be open for business.
No. The real cause, the root cause of the whole thing, is the lack of a local news infrastructure. No one saw this coming. No one understood the issues. No one was prepared.
How else could there be two years of negotiations on an environmentally dirty deal while Council watched our youth organize and ultimately succeed in their demand for a municipal declaration of climate emergency? Only when people are able to avoid uncomfortable questions can such a thing happen.
This is not new. We saw it when the RNG treatment plant was approved, despite the protests of hundreds of angry citizens, many of whom, I might add, were treated very poorly by the City. Here’s how it works:
Keep them in the dark. Surprise them. Tell them it’s a “done deal.” Shame them for not acting earlier.
Fair and functioning municipal government requires an informed citizenry. One local newspaper, owned by an American media conglomerate and with a skeleton staff stretched to cover a wide variety of issues, cannot provide this.
Democracy really begins here at the local level. Local passivity fuels provincial rapacity, and the double-dealing works its way up to the top. We need to be vigilant, proactive, and we need to be informed.
But for now, it’s the holidays, and I hope everyone has a peaceful and restful time. I hope everyone is near someone they love. Let’s forget about it for just a little while. In New Year, let’s work to find out everything we can about this “done deal,” and make sure that our information is correct and well resourced. Then, let’s share what we know as widely as we can, because it looks like we’re going to have to be our own news infrastructure.
Stratfordians may be isolated in this time of Covid, but we’re sure hearing from each other. If you don’t know about the protests over the Ford Government’s imposition of a Minister’s Zoning Order on our city, you must have superhuman social distancing powers.
Everyone I know has been writing letters and calling their councillors. If you’d like to join in, there’s a list of addresses and telephone numbers at the end of this post. There are lots of other ways to show your opposition, as well.
There is a socially-distanced rally set for Monday, November 30, at noon. This rally will precede a meeting at 3:45 between Mayor Dan Mathieson and representatives of the group Get Concerned Stratford, Melissa Verspeeten and Mike Sullivan. Only 100 may attend this socially-distanced rally , and to attend you must get tickets through Eventbrite. If you can’t get a ticket, you can listen from your car. More information at the Eventbrite link.
Get Concerned Stratford is also organizing an online meeting for December 8 at 7 pm. There will be speakers, and a chance to learn more about the issues.Find more information here.
I’m hearing that some people are holding protests in front of City Hall, from noon – 2pm, Monday to Friday. If this group has an organizer, please let me know, and I will post your information here.
There may be a socially-distanced march coming as well, I’m not sure. If you know more, please pass it on to me, and I will also post it here.