North Bay city council refuses to declare climate emergency, but promises action

A testy evening at North Bay city council centred around whether or not to use a single word: emergency.

City council pledges to consider climate change in planning decisions, budget talks

A tall glass building stands over a shorter brick building that has a sign reading 'city hall'
The City of North Bay estimates that there are over 100 short term rental units in the city, but less than five of them have registered for the required permits under the new bylaw. (Erik White/CBC )

North Bay city council is pledging to take action on climate change, but is not calling it an emergency.

A motion before council Tuesday night was to join dozens of other towns and cities, including Greater Sudbury and West Nipissing, in declaring a climate emergency.

But North Bay council edited that word out of the motion before it passed 8 to 3. 

City councillor and deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch pushed for the change in wording, worried it would make the debate "negative."

"The message that we send today is that the City of North Bay stands up and we do realize it's a significant issue and that if we don't take action it will lead to an emergency," she said. 

Councillor Dave Mendicino said he was comfortable calling climate change a "crisis," but not an emergency.

"I do have a problem with that. Save that language for when our citizens or city's life is at immediate risk," he said.

Mendicino, Vrebosch and other councillors speaking out against the emergency declaration were repeatedly heckled by citizens sitting in the gallery, some of whom walked out in frustration. 

"Removing the emergency declaration absolutely defeats the purpose of the motion which is to join the movement of other jurisdictions that have done so," said councillor Scott Robertson, who tabled the original motion.

While it didn't declare a climate emergency, North Bay city council did pledge to consider climate change in planning decisions and when it draws up its budget next year. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to