Colwood Mayor Rob Martin (left), Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins, Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor, Highlands Mayor Ken Williams, Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch and North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr attended a luncheon to hear University of Victoria scientists discuss climate change. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Greater Victoria Mayors, environment minister talk climate change

Ten local mayors and minister Catherine McKenna heard a presentation from UVic scientists

Ten Greater Victoria mayors and the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, gathered for a discussion on climate action on Tuesday.

The group met at Esquimalt Municipal Hall to hear two scientists working with the University of Victoria, Greg Flato and Neil Swart, discuss Canada’s Changing Climate Report.

“This is a groundbreaking report,” McKenna said. “They gave examples, and it’s very important for mayors because they’re on the front line of climate change… they need to plan for the longer term.”

The report discussed what areas would look like in 25 years if communities continued to have high carbon emissions, versus reduced carbon emissions.

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“Under a high emissions scenario, a high temperature day in Victoria could go from 29 degrees to 32 degrees,” McKenna said. “Right now we have eight days over 25 degrees, and under a high emissions scenario it would go to 42 days.”

McKenna continued to praise the efforts she heard from local leaders, including the City of Victoria’s goal to have an 80 percent reduction in emissions from 2007 levels, and a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. She also noted Central Saanich’s target goal of a 33 per cent reduction in emissions of 2007 levels by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050.

McKenna did not announce any additional federal funding to mitigate costs at a local level, but referred to $1 billion Green Municipal Fund dog-eared in the 2019 budget for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Any municipality can apply for funding, she explained.

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For Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins, having McKenna present was a significant event.

“It was extremely valuable information that was presented to us and it’s always good when you can sit down with a minister to ask questions and to discuss programs,” Desjardins said.

Currently, Esquimalt is developing their own climate action plan and a climate mitigation plan as a part of their 2019 budget.

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