OPINION: Sooke takes action on climate emergency

Public participation key to fighting climate change

Last year the world received the dire warning that we have, at best, 12 years to drastically reduce carbon emissions. A climate emergency was declared in Sooke and across Canada. But what can we actually do to slow climate change or better prepare our community for the impact it may have?

Sensing rampant climate angst, Jo Phillips and Susan Clarke of Transition Sooke decided to do some “pop-up questionnaires” around Sooke asking the “person on the street” questions such as “how do you feel about the climate emergency?”

The answers ranged from angry to isolated; scared and anxious to powerless.

And when asked what would make them feel better (besides a miraculous technology fix) many agreed they would like to be involved in a made-in-Sooke action plan to help with reducing emissions and pollution and make our community more self-sufficient in the event of future climate disruptions.

On June 22, Transition Sooke held a town hall in conjunction with more than 150 similar town halls across Canada to share our ideas for what a Green New Deal would look like for Canada. More than 70 people attended and they identified 12 areas of concern: food security, water conservation, ocean and forest protection, divestment from fossil fuels, zero waste, a new economic model, transportation, emergency/disaster planning, green energy, climate angst/connecting with youth, direct action and green lifestyle.

A follow-up day-long Community Action Workshop was held on Sept. 29 to build on the work from the town hall and plan “made-in-Sooke” climate actions.

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After keynote talks by Ron Bilinsky of Sooke Emergency Planning detailing how to create community pods, Al Wickheim of Otter Point Emergency Services discussing the problem of groundwater depletion and the precarious state of our thirsty forests and J. Ocean Dennie of Friends of the Sooke Hills Wilderness talking about preserving ecosystems, the 60 attendees divided into small groups, each focusing on one of the areas of concern identified in the June town hall.

These groups came up with some pretty compelling action plans, most of which included advocacy with politicians of all levels of government as well as with already-working groups in the Sooke Region such as the District of Sooke Climate Change Action Committee and Zero Waste Sooke.

Among the actions brought forward: a pilot community kitchen; acquiring an historic farm or underused parklands to establish community farms and gardens; a free afternoon rainwater harvesting workshop; creating community pods for emergency situations; a community managed forest and ecotourism; exploring bulk ordering possibilities; creating a co-op retail hub in Sooke; advocating for better Sooke area transit options; creating and maintaining a RideShare website for the region; starting a Green Lifestyle group to share ideas and promote re-skilling; educating the public on ways to save 75 per cent on our house’s energy bills by practising energy conservation and retrofitting for better heat exchange; and forming a healing circle to address our angst and feelings of powerlessness.

All of these actions and many more are open to public participation.

If you are ready for action or want to learn more, please go to Transition Sooke’s website at transitionsooke.org and sign up for the newsletter, email sooketransition@gmail.com, or come to the next Transition Sooke meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Harbourside CoHousing located at 6683 Horne Rd.

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Submitted by Transition Sooke.

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