London city councillors declare climate emergency

London is the latest Canadian city to declare a climate emergency and joins ranks with Halifax, Kingston and Vancouver. Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL File

The city of London, Ont. has declared a climate emergency

In front of a packed gallery, city councillors voted 12-3 to declare a climate emergency on Tuesday. The vote sees London join ranks with Halifax, Kingston, Vancouver and a growing number of municipalities across Canada that have made similar declarations.

READ MORE: Kingston first Ontario municipality to declare climate emergency

Londoners fill the gallery of council chambers, awaiting a vote from councillors that will decide whether or not London declares a climate emergency. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire expressed his opposition in a discussion leading up to the vote. While he agreed that there is a “global climate emergency caused by man,” Squire argued that it is not within London’s jurisdiction to declare a climate emergency.

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“If we could convince China and the United States and India to international action [so] that we could do something about this, that would be within our jurisdiction, but it isn’t,” Squire said.

Another opposing voice came from Ward 1 Coun. Michael van Holst, who argued that declaring an emergency will lead the city to looking for “desperate actions.”

“I think those result in a poor plan,” van Holst added.

Ward 10 Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen also voted against the declaration along with Squire and van Holst.

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

Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner voiced a different tone, arguing that the declaration will provide a lens and focus for the city moving forward.

“[It] tells the city and staff that we need to be able to focus these in our strategic priorities and in our individual actions as Londoners, too,” Turner said.

Meantime, Ward 12 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza urged her elected peers to think of future generations.

“The fact that our gallery is full tonight with grandparents down to babes in arms means that it crosses all lines and that it is time to take action,” Peloza said.

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READ MORE: Halifax joins Vancouver as 2nd Canadian city to declare climate emergency

Among those in the gallery was Amanda Cleaver, who told 980 CFPL that Tuesday’s outcome made her hopeful. Cleaver added that She hopes London’s declaration proves to be more than symbolic.

“All of us want to see clear goals defined,” Cleaver said.

“We want to see in the next years to come that this is our goal … and [these] are concrete actions that we are going to take today.”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s board of health declares climate emergency

The declaration itself defines an emergency as “an often dangerous situation requiring immediate action”.

Wording in the declaration adds that, “the climate in Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, as per Canada’s Changing Climate report.”

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