In response to a tweet from Coun. Leanne Piper declaring that she will no longer support any new development application that comes before Council that is not net zero carbon, her Ward 1 counterpart Dan Gibson presented what he called an “alternative tone”, a sign some say show that tensions between the pair continue to simmer.

The tweets this week represent a continuation of what appears to be an ongoing skirmish over the best approach to Guelph’s fight against climate change, a division appearing to be led by this pair of councillors.

Piper in late May put forward a motion calling for a declaration of a climate emergency. Gibson, in response, proposed an amendment that changed the wording to “acknowledge” and “crisis” — seen as a watering down of words by those on both sides.

Piper and her supporters wanted the climate emergency declaration because they felt it was an appropriate labelling of an environmental situation that is “local and now”.

Gibson argued that the declaration could alienate residents in the city from staying supportive of the city’s current policies. The councillor described a “common currency” that allows for broader consensus.

A large part of the city’s climate plan moving forward is a partnership with Our Energy Guelph with the goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions for the corporation by 2050. 

In his Twitter response to Piper, Gibson said the he supports the OEG 2050 plan but emphasized “support from our local business community is critical for success”.

“I’m committed to bringing our partners in city building together to rally in the same direction,” he added in his retweet of Piper.

“Excellent,” Piper wrote in response, “can’t wait to get started and looking forward to your support to implement [Our Energy Guelph’s] action [number one] for 100 per cent of new construction #Netzero by 2030.”

The Twitter conversation, for some watching it play out, show a divide that continues between the two councillors and tensions that could extend into the future, the Guelph residents told The Post, describing it as a “fight”.

Coun. Leanne Piper criticized The Post for “fanning the flames and promoting division by referring to differing opinions as a ‘fight’, a word used by a Guelph resident who spoke on background to The Post.

“Dan Gibson and I have the same goals — we both care deeply about the environment and our city’s future. We both want to take steps locally to address the global climate crisis,” she said in a reply to the initial story.

“We both want a liveable, sustainable, prosperous city. We both believe that our development community is innovative and want to partner with them to build net zero housing and achieve the targets of the CEI [and] Our Energy Guelph action plan.”

“We may disagree on how to get there, which is a normal part of Council debate and is reflective of diverse views in the community,” she continued.

“Dan [Gibson] and I have demonstrated over the past five years that we are aligned on many issues, and on files where we differ, we will continue to work together respectfully. I hope that the social media community can do the same.”