Reader urges MV Council to join other municipalities in recognizing climate emergency

Editor’s note: The following letter has today been sent to Mayor Kim Love and copied to all members of Madawaska Valley Council. The writer asked The Current to publish it as the municipality’s Strategic Plan Survey closes this Friday Dec. 6.  Click HERE to go directly to the online survey. 

Good morning Kim:

Here in the Valley we have seen the adverse effects of Climate Change.  The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that things will get worse, not better.  Now, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres, warns us that the point of no return is at hand.  Yet, in the face of impending disaster our MP Gallant abdicates leadership to battle the crisis.  We have a Leadership Crisis at the top of the political food chain.  Leadership is going to have to come from a grassroots level.  Thankfully, Council is currently updating “The Path Forward” and this provides an opportunity to refresh the plan and modify our Vision and Mission statements.

Our climate crisis is the result of millions of individual actions and recovery will only be accomplished with participation from millions of us around the world–there is no big magic solution, only millions of small ones.  Reviewing the 2015 version of The Path Forward, page 38 shows that respondents’ vision includes the notion that we be environmental leaders. And, (on page 8) “It is clear from consultation feedback that the natural environment in Madawaska Valley is a defining asset that is both valued and identified as needing ongoing protection and attention.  The natural environment sits at the centre of Madawaska Valley’s tourism sector . . . . “.

The cost of doing nothing is too high.  Nearly five hundred Canadian communities have declared a “Climate Emergency”.  This declaration commits them to considering environmental impact in all their decision making.  Please be the leaders we desperately need and join the nearly 500 other Canadian communities to formally recognize the crisis we face.  Then I urge you to consider “environmental impact” in all your decision making and make a commitment to inform all ratepayers of actions we can take to help.  Millions of individual actions are needed–you might consider the tax bill newsletter as an opportunity to provide helpful environmental tips to ratepayers.  In addition I ask you to consider modifying your Vision and Mission statements to clearly state Council’s committment to environmental stewardship and leadership in the battle against climate change.

In discussions with members of our Lake Association it is clear that people are worried about future generations.  I serve on an MNRF advisory committee considering the state of sportfishing in our zone.  The science indicates that lake trout (a prized sportfish) faces extinction in a 30 to 50 year period given the current rate of exploitation.  Climate change is a stressor for this cold water species and if we allow them to disappear, there will be an economic impact in the Madawaska Valley.  I am keeping KAPOA and our members updated on MNRF proceedings.

Several townships around the province have adopted strong environmental stewardship policies some of which may be useful in Madawaska Valley.  Rural mayors meet from time to time to share good ideas and challenges and given the urgency of our current situation perhaps a team can be established to establish best practices.

Our Lake Association has partnered with Watersheds Canada to evaluate the condition of the entire shoreline around our four Lakes (Carson, Trout, Lepine and Greenan).  Each property owner has been provided an individualized report describing their property and tips for actions they can take to improve the health of their shoreline.  In addition, our Directors have a summary report indicating percentages of the shoreline that are natural, regenerative, ornamental or degraded.  Priority actions were identified and a number of property owners have already participated in the program to naturalize their shoreline.  One member has planted probably 100 native plants on the shoreline (I lost count after 87 and I know I missed some).  Small steps, but a starting point and a grassroots leader.  Water quality improves, fish and wildlife habitat improves and yes, property values are protected.

Mayor Love, I hope Council will update the Vision and Mission statements, recognize the climate emergency along with the other Canadian communities, consider environmental impact in all decision making, make it clear to all that “environmental leadership is us,” and enlist the help of all ratepayers to fight the good fight.  This is an opportunity to build partnerships between Council and property owners.  We face a big challenge and a team approach is needed.  Please tell us how we can help.  My grandkids are counting on you!

Regards and Merry Christmas,

Al Best

Ottawa, ON

 

Photo: restoring natural shoreline along Trout Lake

Note: The Current’s editor is a director of Carson, Trout, Lepine & Greenan Lakes Association.

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