City eyes hiring climate change officer


The city is looking to hire a climate change officer.

City councillors voted, at a recent committee meeting, in favour of applying to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for a grant to support the hiring of a climate control officer to address a number of environment-related issues. The decision comes up for approval at a city council meeting Tuesday night.

The federation provides a grant of up to $125,000 over a two-year period.

The committee’s resolution calls for the city to spend up to $60,000 on any additional labour and benefits costs, which will come from the city’ council priority reserve fund.

The city’s resolution is contingent on the federation approving the grant application.

Ward 4 Coun. Cheryl Antoski said she sees proposal as a great opportunity for the city to see how the position of a climate change officer could play for itself.

“Climate change impacts almost every city department,” she said “We had the flash flood in the north end last summer and the major flood in the winter cost the city millions of reactive dollars with no resources put toward prevention of further issues and impacted public works.

“Prevention and pro-active approaches always cost less in the long run and we need to be more strategic.”

But Ward 3 Coun. Dan McCreary disagrees.

“Frankly, the city has other priorities,” said McCreary.

McCreary also objected to the hiring of a director to implement the city’s downtown infrastructure revitalization and renewal program at an annual cost of $175,000 a year for five years.

But Antoski said the city must think long term for future generations.

As well, a climate control officer would look for funding opportunities, she noted.

For example, the federation offers funding for sustainable neighbourhood plans, energy efficiency and recovery, transportation and fuel efficiency, as well as feasibility studies and pilot projects, Antoski said.

“We could be much more proactive and progressive with respect to sustainability,” she said.

“People who move here from other municipalities cannot believe that we do not have organic collection or solar panels on buildings. But, as it stands, we do not have the capacity to move forward on a lot of these initiatives.”

She said that the hiring of a climate change officer would help city staff move forward on many initiatives.

“It would help us create a more robust and cost-effective sustainability plan that would give us longer-lasting assets, extend the life of the landfill, energy reduction programs and cost-saving initiatives,” Antoski said.

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