Climate change has been a hot topic on the campaign trail.
The four candidates running for a spot around the table in the Oct. 17 byelection have different opinions on the environment and the steps Smithers should or shouldn’t take to conserve the Earth.
Last summer, it was a close vote, but Smithers declared a climate emergency.
A motion by then Councillor Gladys Atrill to make a declaration of climate emergency passed in a 4-3 vote, with Councillors Lorne Benson, John Buikema and Frank Wray opposed.
Mika Meyer supports the move and said climate change is happening.
She thinks as a community, it is time to have the tough discussion about climate change and every action taken now will matter.
“I will support the Town’s initiative in updating the Community Energy and Emissions plan that will develop action items collectively with the community so we can take immediate action in this urgent situation,” she said.
“I understand budgets priorities and spending will have to be shifted and changed, but these are tough conversations and decisions that will need to be had and made. As a mother to two young children, it is important to me that they know that with the information I had, I did everything I could to leave the world a better place for them.”
Candidate Sam Raven also agreed saying it was a good first step.
“It acknowledges that we have to start making some changes and moving in that direction,” she said. “I know some people are hesitant because we wonder what we can do because Smithers is so small, but it is an important step for our leadership to acknowledge there is an issue so we can do something.”
Meanwhile Randy Bell said it was an overstep.
“An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action,” he said. “We are not in an emergency, this fake status is nothing more than the leftists virtue-signalling. It is just one more lie to add to their climate alarmism narrative.”
Colin Bateman also questioned the move but for other reasons. He thinks it is one thing to declare a state of emergency regarding climate change, but it is another thing to do something about it.
“And from what I can see, there has not been much done about that declaration,” he said. “In an emergency, I would assume that it would be the focal point and immediate measures would be taken to ensure the problem does not get worse. But the truth is, we have yet to see anything meaningful from the Town regarding how to best approach climate change.”
Bateman suggested that the Town connect to provincial guidelines and initiatives regarding the management of climate change and work on a better recycling program.
The Town also recently said it would change up their vehicles to hybrid models when it was time to replace them.
Raven said it is the most feasible way to do it, switching over to hybrids is something that should be on the Town’s radar.
She added communication is key and letting the public know why if a certain vehicle can’t be changed to a hybrid model is important.
Meyer also said it is a something she would support if she was elected.
Bell, however, questions the entire premise.
“Electric vehicles do not produce much less CO2 than traditional vehicles in the life-span of the vehicle,” he said. “Electric vehicles should be considered coal-powered vehicles, especially when the entire premise of the leftist ideology on going electric is to reduce CO2 emissions around the world. Much of the electricity is produced using coal.”
Meanwhile, Bateman said the focus should be on working toward planning for an electric hub where the two level 2 charging stations are at Second Avenue so electric vehicles can be a viable option for everyone. It currently takes 6 to 7 hours to charge a vehicle there.
“I would like to work with BC Hydro to have a new 30-40 minute charge station installed at Second Avenue, as there is already electricity capacity there. The Hub could also be used to charge electric wheelchairs.”
Bateman added council needs to be transparent when it comes to the environment and decisions need to be made that are reflective of the entire community, and not just those perspectives of a small group.
“The cost to the taxpayer and the environmental impact should both be considered when making these types of decisions,” he said.
Voters head to the polls on Oct. 17.