Oakville Declares Climate Change Emergency

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On Monday, June 24th 2019 Oakville’s Council voted unanimously to pass a motion declaring a climate emergency joining more than 40 municipalities in Canada that have declared a state of emergency regarding the environmental crisis.

Oakville’s Town Council heard from Oakvillegreen and eight other delegations from residents and local organizations, all emphasizing the urgency to act now.

As Oakville’s environmental association here is our contribution:

Council June 24, 2019

Climate Change Emergency- Item 4          Oakvillegreen delegation 

Good evening,

My name is Karen Brock and I am delegating on behalf of Oakvillegreen Conservation Association.

Biodiversity and Climate Change go hand in hand. You can’t deal with one alone without addressing the other.   Nature doesn’t work that way. 

OCA has a history of protecting trees and greenspaces in Oakville. We have worked collaboratively with the Town and community partners to enhance our forests, riparian areas, valleys and open spaces.

We are a small organization with a strong action bias. We are on the front line of seeing what is happening in our forests, streams and natural areas.  We see first hand that climate change has brought invasive insects like emerald ash borer and invasive plant species like DSV, Garlic-mustard and buckthorn. Our urban forests are threatened by these species that outcompete natives and have thrived due to climate change when warmer winters no longer kill off these pests.

We also see the constant struggle the town has with development pressure, and actively participate in site planning, committee and council meetings to protect the pernicious nibbling away at our natural infrastructure from private interests. 

Working with the Town of Oakville and other levels of government, we see organizations that are strategy rich and implementation poor.  As you receive tonight’s report I urge you not to leave it as just another report in the file.  Put some money behind it!   

We feel that the Town of Oakville has done a good job of creating a Climate Action Policy, a Stormwater Management Policy, the Oakville Biodiversity Strategy and an Urban Forest Strategy and is working on its Energy Plan. Tonight you receive the Climate Change Emergency feedback from Staff. 

However, without a meaningful budget and a concrete multi-year action plan behind these policies, we will not be able to turn the tide. 

Smart local investments in climate change can have a highly positive ROI (Return on Investment).  These investments will have to be multi pronged. There is no one easy silver bullet to fix this issue.  Oakvillegreen’s strategy is planting, advocacy and education – all of which work at a local level to improve our environment.  Green infrastructure is the only investment you make that will increase in value over time versus depreciating like all other town assets. 

I’m not an accountant, but the Town’s budget dedicated to control & remove these invasive species are insignificant line items, compared to the epic battle we must wage against the effects of climate change.

Stephen Hounsell of the Ontario Biodiversity Council says;

 ”We appear to be strategy rich and implementation poor” and we need to change that. We are in the midst of not only a climate crisis, but also a biodiversity crisis, with a very clear deterioration of wetlands, grasslands & woodlands – the Great Lakes are hardening and there is huge habitat loss.

Bottom Line- Healthy ecosystems sustain healthy people and a healthy economy”.

He says humans are the problem…but they have the solution too.

He outlines 4 strategic directions – Engage people, Reduce threats, Enhance resilience and Improve knowledge

Oakvillegreen is doing all of these 4 things, but we all need to join forces to accelerate our impact. How do we achieve our policy goals? Policy needs to lead to action. 

Timing is important to fund Council’s response to climate change.  As the saying goes, “An ounce a prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  It’s only going to be more expensive and take much longer to fix later. 

As a town and nation, let’s dig deep and re-examine our values

Let’s set ambitious targets & create timelines but most of all, let’s see the money!

I borrowed the phrase “ We would be left to cook in our own juices if we left climate change, environmental protection and food security to the Province”. Local action is more important now, than it ever was.

Define our values, then… be certain strategy, policy and action are in line.

We MUST work together to do better and our organization is here to help.

Karen Brock,

President, Oakvillegreen


Now it is time for all citizens to take responsibility and drive change in their community.  Here are 10 actions that the community members can do.