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Thunder Bay council declares climate emergency

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Thunder Bay City Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency yesterday.

The EarthCare Climate Adaptation Working Group, chaired by Aynsley Klassen, asked the EarthCare Advisory Committee of Council to ask City Council to make the declaration. The Advisory Committee agreed, and Councillor Foulds made the motion.

City Councillors received many emails from residents in support of the declaration and 76 postcards from the youth-led climate strike on Nov. 29. Council received a petition with over one thousand signatures, and more than a dozen letters of support for the declaration from community organizations.

Aynsley Klassen and Courtney Strutt from the EarthCare Climate Adaptation Working Group made the case for declaring a climate emergency in a deputation to Council. They were followed by a deputation from local science teacher Matt Roy.

Many Councillors asked questions and made statements supporting the deputation. Councilor Foulds acknowledged Thunder Bay's leadership on climate changed and noted that much work is still to be done. He noted his support for Canadian firefighters helping fight fires in Australia, but pointed out that it is not OK that we've changed the climate in such a way that we need to send people halfway around the world to fight fires.

Councillor Hamilton said, “we're on the cusp of catastrophe” and Councillor Ruberto spoke of where the motion could take Thunder Bay - for example, to supporting more active transit.

Declaring a climate emergency will raise awareness of the urgency of climate change and will help the City consider everything through a climate lens. It acknowledges the seriousness of the climate crisis and is a step towards tackling climate change more aggressively at the municipal level. Citizen engagement led to a unanimous vote at Council.

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