Climate Action Muskoka disappointed after District of Muskoka passes ‘toothless’ Climate Emergency Declaration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MUSKOKA – On Monday October 19, 2020, the District Council of Muskoka unanimously passed a watered-down Climate Emergency Declaration.  The resolution passed was not the same resolution put forward by Climate Action Muskoka (CAM).

Although Melinda Zytaruk made an extensive presentation to Council on behalf of CAM, the resolution finally voted on was a weakened, rewritten motion put up to replace the stronger CAM resolution, despite the fact that many councillors had previously declared they were unwilling to pass a resolution that was meaningless.

“It constitutes a mere token declaration with no ‘teeth’, no goals, no community input, no plan, in short, nothing to hold the District of Muskoka to addressing the mounting climate crisis,” said Sue McKenzie, co-founder of CAM after the meeting.  

“Declaring there is a climate emergency with no commitments attached is like saying the earth is round or photosynthesis happens,” Zytaruk added.

The motion to pass the CAM Resolution received strong support from a number of councillors. Mover of the motion Councillor Peppard spoke of the need to have firm targets and seconder Councillor Alcock urged the council to see the merit in viewing all decision-making through a climate lens. Councillor Glover said he intended to take a similar resolution to Lake of Bays Council.

“I think it’s extremely important that we recognize that the climate situation actually IS an emergency because of the scale of challenge in front of us,” said Councillor Koetzier. He spoke ardently of the need to take real action now pointing out that the Township of Georgian Bay declared a climate emergency early in 2020.

Others applauded the collaborative work done by CAM with District staff, the Muskoka Watershed Council and councillors to develop the resolution. Chair John Klink recognized the work done to achieve widespread community endorsement.

McKenzie pointed out that the CAM resolution was shelved along with its action items:  to develop a Community Action Plan (CAP); to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030, reaching zero by 2050; to support a diverse Community Working Group to provide input and review to the CAP; to collaborate with other parties to develop standards and protocols in line with climate mitigation.

“The bottom line is that the councillors who did NOT support a Climate Emergency resolution with real goals and actions built in, procedurally out-manouevred those councillors who wanted to see the District take real action,” according to McKenzie.

“Of course, our CAM members are profoundly disappointed after working collaboratively for a year to bring a strong resolution to Council,” McKenzie declared. “The District has missed this opportunity to move forward with the community and has placed the responsibility for developing their corporate and community Climate Action plans back in the hands of their staff.  It is our hope the staff will include the substantial action items we have been discussing with them.”

CAM will continue working with and in the community to educate and encourage citizens, businesses and groups to take up the challenge of addressing the climate crisis and the need to take urgent action.

Last week CAM launched it new project 50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge where individuals and households can pledge to reduce their carbon footprint 8% a year to reach the goal of a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. https://www.climateactionmuskoka.org/

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka who believe in working together to inspire individuals, groups, and every level of government to make the dramatic changes needed to meet this historic climate challenge.