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Fear of intimidation causes regional district to postpone climate action open houses

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
May 19th, 2023

Citing fear of intimidation a series of open houses planned by the regional district to discuss climate action recommendations has been cancelled.

Announced late on Thursday, the decision was made to provide Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) staff members “with additional time to present recommendations for a revised timeline for public consultation,” noted a press release from the RDCK.

The regional district chief administrative officer, Stuart Horn, said the move to cancel the open houses — scheduled to take place between May 23 and July 5 — was made in response to concerns that the open houses would not be a safe and respectful environment for all participants to share constructive feedback.

“We value the input from the public and want to ensure all members of the community have a chance to participate without the fear of intimidation,” he said in a statement issued by the RDCK on Thursday. “(B)ut at this time postponing the open houses is the responsible course of action.”

One month ago nearly 100 people showed up at the April 20 regional district board meeting to raise concerns over a lack of engagement, prompting the RDCK board of directors to delay adoption of the RDCK Climate Actions plan to the Aug. 17 board meeting.

The intent was to allow regional district staff to set up more public consultations in communities throughout the RDCK in order to “engage residents on the Climate Actions plan and respond to all questions from residents.”

The Climate Actions plan is a four-year plan with a scheduled review at year two (2025) and is focused on identifying and finding solutions for climate action that reflect the needs of RDCK residents.

“As it is implemented, residents will be able to shape and guide the outcomes of many of the actions,” said Paris Marshall Smith, RDCK sustainability planner, in her report to the board.

Getting there, eventually

Horn said it was the RDCK’s intention to have a “fulsome” consultation process with the open houses to be rescheduled “as soon as possible.”

How they get there is not clear, however.

“The board has committed to work with residents, emphasizing the need for the RDCK to prepare a more comprehensive approach in coordinating consultations within communities,” a statement from the RDCK claimed.

As a result, the RDCK board will not be adopting the RDCK Climate Action plan in August 2023. 

“While it is a difficult decision to postpone the meetings planned,” said RDCK board chair Aimee Watson, “the board welcomes these measures, which prioritize safety, foster effective public engagement, and demonstrate a commitment to a thorough and inclusive decision-making processes.”

The delay is expected to allow RDCK staff to include public feedback received to-date, and plan an appropriate engagement and consultation timeline. 

“We encourage residents to continue to provide feedback and questions as we prepare for the open houses throughout the RDCK,” said Watson.

Source: The Nelson Daily, April 26

Deeper dive

• The draft action plan — RDCK Climate Actions — and the accompanying climate action workbook  (Climate Action workbook) are available for comment.

• Check the climate action webpage or follow RDCK’s Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates.

• Information on how to get involved and additional related events will be posted to the RDCK Events Calendar.

Righting the ship

“This is an opportunity to correct some of the misinformation that has been circulating in the public and on social media,” a regional district media release stated.

“It has come to the attention of the RDCK that inaccurate information has been shared, causing confusion and misunderstanding among the public.”

To clarify:

• This is a guidance plan not a regulatory plan.

What does that mean? This means that adoption of this plan will provide staff board direction to explore opportunities through projects and programs that could support greater resilience in regional district communities and are aligned with community needs.

“We want to work with you to understand what makes sense in your neighborhood.”

• The concept of 15-minute cities is not included in this plan.

“The RDCK is not planning for 15-minute cities.”

Pathway webinars – There are 10 pathways in the climate action plan: land-use planning; transportation; energy, resource recovery; buildings; water, food and agriculture; floods and geo-hazards; wildfire; and leadership and operations.

Online webinars will be hosted and recorded and available as reference on the specific pathways. Find out more here:

Source: RDCK

Categories: General

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