Demonstrators call on Guelph councillors to declare climate change emergency

Dozens of people gathered in front of Guelph City Hall Monday afternoon for a climate change demonstration, asking city council to declare a climate change emergency.

Guelph Coun. James Gordon said he plans to present a climate change emergency motion to council

Demonstrators outside of Guelph City Hall. (Colin Cote-Paulette/CBC)

Dozens of people gathered in front of Guelph City Hall Monday afternoon calling on city council to take more action on climate change.

Demonstrators want Guelph to follow Kingston's and Hamilton's lead in declaring a climate change emergency.

"We're glad to see that push was happening from certain city councilors, but we're also aware that the mayor feels like enough has been done and other city councilors feel like enough has been done," said Dustin Brown, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Guelph, the group that organized the demonstration.

Demonstrators participated in a "die-in" during the protest to symbolize how species are dying on earth due to climate change. People laid on the ground with their eyes closed for several minutes.

Demonstrators laying on the ground in front of Guelph City Hall to show that species are dying every 8 minutes on earth.  (Colin Cote-Paulette/CBC)

Motion may be on the way

Guelph Coun. James Gordon said he plans to present a climate change emergency motion to council to better address climate change issues on a municipal level.

"It will contain a number of actions items and suggestions," Gordon, who is also part of the Climate Change Leadership Caucus, said.

The motion has not yet been finalized, but Gordon hopes to have it ready for council in the coming month.

Ward 6 Coun. Dominique O'Rourke said though it's encouraging that council is in agreement with the need to tackle climate change locally, she wants to see more concrete strategies, such as Guelph's efforts to become a net zero carbon community by 2050.

"No one is interested in an empty motion and words," she said. 

"It depends on what the motion will be, but more importantly, lets get to the strategy planning. Let's get to real data."

Gordon said he's working to make sure his motion will have the data and information needed to tackle climate change locally, in addition to what the city is already working on.

"For some reason there's been an assumption that declaring an emergency is purely symbolic and it wouldn't have any teeth behind it and our intention is to make sure that is not the case," he said.

with files from Colin Cote-Paulette