Diane Griffin, one of the Island’s four senators, attended the meetings in Summerside.
“For about a year now we’ve been going across Canada meeting with municipalities and talking about climate change, the environment and energy. When we came to the East Coast, it seemed like a good time to feature what Summerside has been doing.”
For years, Griffin has been learning about climate change, but says it’s taken much longer for it to be recognized at the political level and then even longer, to see action.
“We’re not alone in this. We can talk all we want about Canada, but we’ve got a big neighbour south of the border and then other large and populous countries around the world.
“So we have to do our share, while what everyone else does also affects us.”
One presentation made to the senators by the UPEI Climate Lab, discussed the importance of adaptation.
“Adaptation is the question: how do you keep your beachfronts from washing away, or how to do we deal with the buildings that are built on the melting permafrost, or how can we help the communities and villages that depend on the ice roads to get their needs and supplies,” said British Columbia Senator Richard Neufeld, chair of the senate committee.
Even if provinces meet the regulations put in place by the government, said Neufeld, “Climate change is still coming down the track.”
“It’s still going to hit us. That’s where I come in with adaptation, but we should also look at how we do things.”
Part of the committee’s mandate is to determine how much transitioning to a lower carbon economy will cost the average person, Neufeld added.
“At the end of the day, regardless of whether it’s a federal, provincial or municipal policy in place.”
“We should be looking seriously at climate change and do everything we possibly can to mitigate it, but not so direct that we destroy an economy.”
Bob Ashley, the CAO for the city of Summerside, spent the morning with the senators, showing them the various energy projects within the city.
He said the senators were interested in the cost to average citizens.
“And what they would have to bear during the transfer to a green economy.”
“So far we know there is going to be a cost when the province comes down with the carbon tax, but we don’t have a number yet.”
Ashley says the senators welcomed the city’s initiatives.
“I think we put a lot of useful input into their kitbags they’re taking with them for when they write and table their report.”
Some of the green initiatives in Summerside:
– Wind Farm
– Smart Home Plan initiative
– Green Commute program
– Heat for Less program
– Credit Union Place solar project