Richmond may be next city to declare climate emergency

One city councillor says Richmond’s elevation — or lack thereof — makes it vulnerable to climate catastrophes. Susan Nielsen, submitted

Climate emergency declarations have been passed in Halifax, London, L.A. and Vancouver.

Now, the City of Richmond may be following suit.

Coun. Michael Wolfe will present a motion at Monday’s council meeting to have the city declare a climate emergency. He said it’s an urgent task in Richmond, which will be one of the first to experience the long-term effects of rising sea levels.

“We’re getting to a far more extreme scenario with droughts, wildfires, weather extremes,” said Wolfe.

“The shifting of where water is coming down is going to be very impactful for a city like Richmond, where we’re at sea level and we’re right next to the ocean.”

READ MORE: Vancouver City Council votes to declare ‘climate emergency’

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He said Richmond’s elevation — or lack thereof — makes it vulnerable to climate catastrophes like tsunamis, liquefaction, flooding and saltwater intrusion into farmland.

Wolfe said that while he has support, he doesn’t expect the motion to pass unanimously because some councillors feel the city is doing enough right now.

“There’s been incremental movement but not, in my mind, to the level that it needs to be. We have inherited the problems from our previous generations, and I think there are obvious hints that things are not normal anymore and things have definitely tipped,” he said.

READ MORE: Canadian homes aren’t prepared for catastrophes: University of Waterloo study

If the motion is passed, it will direct city staff to find out how Richmond can achieve net-zero waste and food self-sufficiency.

“Also, to have a whole city goal of going net zero in carbon emissions,” Wolfe said.

“That’s a lofty goal, but if there’s any incremental movement towards that we can do, then I think that’s the right direction when you’re faced with a climate emergency.”

Wolfe said climate change is an issue close to his heart, and while Richmond has taken some steps to combat the issue, he wants to see things moving faster.


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