Coun. Leanne Piper listed several action items on Tuesday that she wants to bring to Council in the next year to demonstrate that the city’s acknowledgement of a climate crisis has meaning to it after her original climate emergency motion was changed the night before.

The Ward 5 councillor aimed to declare a climate emergency at Monday’s long meeting, amid other climate policy motions. However, an amendment from Coun. Dan Gibson changed the wording to “acknowledgement” and “crisis” which was passed and killed the original motion, to backlash.

“It is not the exact wording that I put on the floor as a motion, nor is i what all of the passionate and articulate delegations were demanding,” Piper wrote in a post on her Ward 5 website, explaining that “democracy unfolds like that sometimes.”

“The next day, we stand together. We rally. We unite and support our staff.  We act. We get to work on implementation. We hold each other accountable for commitments we made to the community through our motions.”

Piper continued, saying that “disagreement is not divisive, it’s diversity”, saying that because Council is “representative of the same conversations that are happening in the community”, so it was no surprise that the issue came to the Council chamber.

“We heard loud and clear from the many passionate letters and delegations that the climate crisis is already affecting lives,” Piper wrote. She explained that many within Guelph are channelling “despair into change”, explaining that they all agree that actions speak louder than words.

“Words inspire. Words create clarity. Words lead to action. But in the end, if we are serious about the climate crisis, our actions will define us.”

After pointing out several additional motions that came before Council — such as one requiring all future reports of Council to contain a section on the topic’s implications on climate change — Piper dove into five actions to
‘demonstrate that the climate crisis acknowledgement is meaningful’.

Her first initiative to require that all future new greenfield development applications must be Net Zero. Not “Net Zero Ready”, which is code for putting the responsibility on the home owner.

The biggest planning file currently in process is the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan, or CMSP.  Piper says “we must accept no less than 100 [per cent] Net Zero on this land.  The OEG action plan says all new developments will be net zero.  We must start now. “

The councillor’s second goal is to put the climate crisis as the top priority in the upcoming Strategic Plan considerations, then use the plan to create a single “Climate Crisis Plan” that will bring together several pieces “under one big umbrella” to be funded “appropriately.”

Her third initiative is to commit to allotting budget funding in implementing the 100 per cent renewables energy plan for the City of Guelph, saying that “keeping taxes low in the short term, and paying for climate crisis impacts down the road, is bad policy.”

The next goal for Piper is to financially back the Urban Forest Plan in full, citing a loss in canopy from the invasive Emerald Ash Borer that has put the city behind the 40 per cent canopy target. She wrote “we must plant, plant, plant this year”.

The final objective for Piper is to install electric vehicle charging stations across the city, writing that “the electrification of transportation can be escalated once this critical infrastructure is in place”, saying that Alectra is a “key partner”.

“If we can accomplish these five things in the next year, this will demonstrate the leadership our community is so desperately seeking.”