Heralding the first year a success, Oak Bay is embarking on its second round of a Coolkit program designed to create climate champions.
The district began the Coolkit program in conjunction with the UBC forestry program in spring 2022, hosting spring sessions introducing ways to engage all ages with a focus on impacting climate change in an active way, said Prof. Stephen Sheppard, principal investigator for the Coolkit team.
A trio of workshops – customized with 20 to 25 people in each – launched about 40 climate champions and eight neighbourhood groups into the community.
“They really want to make a difference, and encourage and inspire people,” Sheppard said. “People are willing to work on this, developing climate solutions and they’re having some fun doing it.”
Champions came away with an improved awareness of their individual carbon footprints, recognition of the value of collective action at the local scale and enjoyed bonding with neighbours and community through fun, social, hands-on activities. They also gained insight on other residents’ perceptions of climate action.
A survey after the series showed 79 per cent of participants had experienced climate anxiety before the workshops, and their confidence in talking about climate change to their community increased from 64 per cent to 94 per cent.
Of participants, 70 per cent felt the workshops met their expectations in learning how to talk to their friends, family and community about climate change – leaving room for improvement.
The resulting climate champions, and groups, started looking at things in their homes and neighbourhoods such as landscaping to create pollinator corridors. Oak Bay has helped an Estevan neighbourhood block watch group organize several meetings on reducing carbon footprints with presentations on grants for home retrofits for things such as heat pumps, plus talks on trees and carbon capture, said parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay.
“It’s a proven method now,” Sheppard said.
Even as Oak Bay targets a 40 per cent tree canopy cover by 2045, the idea is to build on that knowledge in the second year, with a late spring session Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Windsor Pavilion.
The first-year champions will meet the recruits as they learn how to impact climate change by cutting their own carbon footprints, Hyde-Lay said.
“There are a lot of resources and we want them to know they’re not on their own,” Sheppard said
He hopes to see people from different parts of Oak Bay and population demographics.
Geographically, Uplands, Carnarvon and Henderson neighbourhoods remain unrepresented, save for a lone individual champion in north Oak Bay.
The Coolkit program also hope to reach young people, through schools, community organizations and church groups.
Learn more or register at connect.oakbay.ca/coolkit.