On April 28, 2016 in Ottawa, an impressive turnout of close to 300 people showed up for Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna's townhall for the government's consultation on climate action. This first climate townhall kicked off two months of similar consultations, to be held by Members of Parliament in communities across Canada.

“The room was packed – people were lining up to speak up for real climate action,” said Aurore Fauret of 350.org and the People’s Climate Plan. “While we waited, the community kept talking about the values that brought them here, and what kind of ambitious climate action we need to see from the government and hold them accountable to.”

United Church folks were there to speak up. Rebecca Lee attends Glebe-St. James United Church in downtown Ottawa, just blocks from where Minister McKenna’s townhall took place. Rebecca describes it as a “very powerful meeting.” 

After a presentation, Rebecca was placed in a breakout group to discuss how to prepare communities and protect them from the effects of climate change. “Most of our ideas centered on community sharing and building our ecological resilience by planning for the future,” says Rebecca.

Rebecca Lee presents her group’s ideas to Catherine McKenna at the Ottawa Centre climate townhall.
Rebecca Lee presents her group’s ideas to Catherine McKenna at the Ottawa Centre climate townhall
Credit: 
Rebecca Lee

Rebecca and her group presented the following ideas:

On climate adaptation:

  • Learn about plants used by Indigenous peoples that are locally adapted.
  • Gardeners are an untapped resource. Provide gardeners with education and resources such as “climate risk facts” for plants sold in nurseries, and encourage the collection and sharing of non-GMO seeds.

On geographical areas and zoning:

  • Do a climate risk inventory of geographical areas and publicly distribute this information in an accessible and useful format.
  • Rethink zoning laws to have all people need within walking distance—shops, parks, schools, and recreation.

On community sharing:

  • Create community tool banks for equipment that is not used frequently (e.g. lawnmowers, snowblowers) so everyone does not need to own one.
  • Use the skills within a community to create needed services to reduce outside dependence. (also creates feelings of security within communities)

“When people reported back some inspiring truths came out,” said Aurore.  “Many expect their bold demands were heard. Now we know that not only the Ottawa community but people across the country are ready to show up and speak up at townhalls in their ridings on the government's climate strategy.”

For more information, see Speak Up in Support of a Bold National Climate Strategy, or the People’s Climate Plan to find a townhall near you.

 

Compiled by Aimee Gavin, Program Assistant, Public Witness