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Central Saanich mayor defends decision to withdraw from regional climate service

Ryan Windsor says CRD’s Climate Action Service duplicates district’s own actions
Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor says every dollar spent on initiatives designed to fight climate change must make an impact. He was defending council’s decision to withdraw from a regional climate strategy program he considers less effective and more expensive than the district’s own. (Black Press Media file photo)

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor says a decision to withdraw from the Capital Regional District’s Climate Action Service will actually improve the municipality’s response to climate change.

Last week’s unanimous council vote to withdraw from the service came after Glenn Harris, CRD’s senior manager of environmental protection, presented councillors with a request to increase Central Saanich’s current $20,998 annual contribution to approximately $64,000.

While putting more money into the service could theoretically lead to a reduction in emissions, Windsor told Black Press Media in an interview, “I’m not sure how the CRD has a better plan than the local governments, who are already way ahead of them. And our perspective was, that is a lot of money for a plan that is less clear than our own.”

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The stated mandate of the service is to facilitate regional coordination on climate action and help CRD members reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and to prepare for climate change impacts.

Climate change is a serious problem that requires serious solutions, Windsor said, and every dollar has to make a meaningful difference.

“I think their heart is in the right place,” he said of the CRD’s program. “I just don’t think it is effective and council is concerned about what is nearly a quadrupling of the service budget. How much of a meaningful impact has it had?”

Regional coordination is great in theory, but not necessarily in practice, said Windsor, who considers the CRD service an inferior duplication of services that is getting more expensive.

“I am not going to beat around the bush, ours is better than the CRD’s,” he said.

Central Saanich will have to pay for the service in 2022 at the higher rate, assuming passage. According to staff, the CRD board – on which Windsor sits – requires notice prior to July 1 if a municipality wishes to withdraw for the following year. Accordingly, the municipality would be required to pay for 2022 at the amended amount of approximately $64,000 if the CRD board approves the higher rates.

A CRD spokesperson said the board is expected to address the increase early in the new year.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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