New Brunswick

Edmundston council adopts declaration of climate emergency

A northwestern New Brunswick city has declared a climate emergency, a move the mayor says isn't just a symbolic measure.

Mayor says move isn't symbolic measure

Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard says the city's declaration of climate emergency won't just be a symbolic move, but affect policy and long-term planning decisions. (CBC)

A northwestern New Brunswick city council has declared a climate emergency, a move the mayor says is a call to action. 

Edmundston council on Tuesday joined Halifax and Vancouver in making a declaration to fight climate change. 

Mayor Cyrille Simard said the declaration, which calls for accelerating the shift to greener forms of energy, reflects the impact climate change is already having on the community. 

"We see the impact on the ground, we see the cost of that," he said, pointing to torrential rains, flooding that's worse and more frequent, and invasive species. 

Edmundston's mayor says climate change has resulted in weather changes like more rain in the winter, increasing the amount of ice that builds up and maintenance costs. (City of Edmundston)

He pointed to rain in the winter that results in more ice, which the mayor said has led to increased maintenance costs. 

Simard said the the declaration won't be just symbolic. He said it will be reflected in things like city policies, long-term planning and purchases.

"We can adapt to it so much, but it's getting to a critical stage right now," he said, referring to a recent UN report that warned of dire consequences from an increase of half a degree in temperature.  

The move is one he hopes other municipalities follow to bring more attention to the issue. The declaration follows a campaign from Australia that calls on people to reach out to their councillors in support of a Citizens' Universal Declaration of Climate Emergency.

Simard said he's not aware of any other New Brunswick municipalities that have passed such a declaration. 

A group of schoolchildren in Quispamsis called on that town's council earlier this month to make a similar declaration. 

Declaration requested in Quispamsis

Quispamsis Coun. Emil Olsen said the town doesn't sign onto such declarations, but he pointed to a number of steps the community has already taken. 

"I'd like to think we're one of the progressive ones," he said. 

Olsen pointed to the qplex as an example of the town's efforts. The arena and pool complex uses a geothermal system for heating pool water, collects grey water for use on the rink and has waterless urinals in washrooms.

Quispamsis Coun. Emil Olsen pointed to the qplex as an example of how the town already makes efforts to be more environmentally friendly.

Other moves include purchasing hybrid vehicles instead of those using gasoline. He said the town purchased an electric Zamboni instead of one that uses propane. While better for the environment, he said it was also more expensive.

Olsen, chair of the town's climate change committee, says the town has spent millions in various ways on its climate-change efforts.

Simard said communities must strike a balance between the cost of taking steps to reduce or adapt to climate change and the long-term impact of climate change.

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.

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