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Victoria backs climate change lawsuit against energy industry, is accused of hypocrisy in Alberta

B.C.'s capital city is facing off against Calgary in a war of words that began with Victoria endorsing an oilpatch lawsuit over climate change and led to Calgary's Mayor reminding the 'garden city' about its own dirty little secret. Kylie Stanton reports.

There’s a war of words developing between the city councils of Victoria and Calgary.

It started when Victoria council endorsed a class action lawsuit against Alberta-based oil and gas companies, asking city staff to track costs related to climate change.

“Council has endorsed looking at the option of pursuing class action proceedings to recover some of the costs that the City has incurred as a result of climate change,” said Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt.

READ MORE: Oil and gas industry drops out of Whistler investor conference over mayor’s climate change letter

But before anything is filed in court, city staff have been asked to report back on the magnitude of damages the city is incurring as a result.

“Victoria is one of 162 municipalities in B.C.,” said Isitt. “So, I think overall province-wide, we’re looking at billions of dollars in damages.”

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Now the idea is generating some heat in Alberta.

WATCH: Backlash over Whistler mayor’s climate change letter

Backlash over Whistler mayor’s climate change letter
Backlash over Whistler mayor’s climate change letter

Counterparts are firing back, calling on Calgary’s mayor to write a letter to Victoria council expressing support for the energy sector, and at the same time, calling out the city for what’s being labelled as blatant hypocrisy.

“They are dumping millions upon millions of [litres] of raw sewage into the ocean,” said Calgary Coun. Sean Chu. “Initially, I thought they were joking.”

In a statement, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley agreed.

“The hypocrisy of this proposed lawsuit is astounding. While Victoria is pumping over 100 million litres of raw sewage into the ocean every day, the hardworking people of our energy sector are reducing emissions, investing in clean technology and powering our great country,” she wrote.

READ MORE: New York City pulls $5 billion out of oil, sues industry over climate change

To be fair, a wastewater treatment plant is finally under construction in the capital region.

Still, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi echoes those sentiments.

“We believe strongly in the environment, and we believe strongly in the economy, and we believe in financial and environmental prosperity for all Canadians,” he said.

Victoria mayor and council aren’t giving up their fight. The idea will be presented at the next Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting next September.

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