Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

BRACEBRIDGE — They got what they came for Monday.

But they’re still “profoundly disappointed” with a hollow victory that appears more political than practical.

District of Muskoka council unanimously passed a climate emergency declaration Monday as it marked 50 years since amalgamation.

But the resolution passed was not the one put forward by Climate Action Muskoka (CAM), they say in a release this afternoon.

And one that left the weekly Friday protesters feeling out in the cold (literally during yesterday’s meeting due to COVID) and left politicians able to claim the moral high ground, while doing nothing to save the planet now.

Although Melinda Zytaruk made an extensive presentation to council on behalf of CAM, they say the resolution finally voted on was a “weakened, rewritten motion put up to replace the stronger CAM resolution.

“Despite the fact that many councillors had previously declared they were unwilling to pass a resolution that was meaningless.”

A disappointed Sue McKenzie, co-founder of CAM, said after the meeting “It constitutes a mere token declaration with no teeth, no goals, no community input, no plan, in short, nothing to hold the District of Muskoka to addressing the mounting climate crisis.”

Added Zytaruk: “Declaring there is a climate emergency with no commitments attached is like saying the earth is round or photosynthesis happens.”

CAM says its motion to pass its preferred resolution received strong support from a number of councillors.

Councillor Michael Peppard (Lake of Bays), who moved the motion, spoke of the need to have firm targets and seconder councillor Nancy Alcock (Huntsville) urged the council to see the merit in viewing all decision-making through a climate lens.

Lake of Bays Mayor Terry Glover said he intended to take a similar resolution to Lake of Bays Council.

“I think it’s extremely important that we recognize that the climate situation actually is an emergency, because of the scale of challenge in front of us,” added Georgian Bay councillor Peter Koetzier, who spoke ardently of the need to take real action now pointing out that the Township of Georgian Bay declared a climate emergency early in 2020.

Others applauded the collaborative work done by CAM with district staff, the Muskoka Watershed Council and councillors to develop the resolution.

Chair John Klink recognized the work done to achieve widespread community endorsement.

McKenzie pointed out that the CAM resolution was shelved along with its action items: to develop a Community Action Plan (CAP); to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030, reaching zero by 2050; to support a diverse Community Working Group to provide input and review to the CAP; to collaborate with other parties to develop standards and protocols in line with climate mitigation.

“The bottom line is that the councillors who did not support a climate emergency resolution with real goals and actions built in, procedurally out-manoeuvred those councillors who wanted to see the district take real action,” according to McKenzie.

“Of course, our CAM members are profoundly disappointed after working collaboratively for a year to bring a strong resolution to council,” McKenzie declared. “The District has missed this opportunity to move forward with the community and has placed the responsibility for developing their corporate and community climate action plans back in the hands of their staff.

“It is our hope the staff will include the substantial action items we have been discussing with them.”

CAM will continue working with and in the community to educate and encourage citizens, businesses and groups to take up the challenge of addressing the climate crisis and the need to take urgent action.

Last week CAM launched its new project ‘50% by 2030 Community Carbon Challenge,’ where individuals and households can pledge to reduce their carbon footprint 8% a year to reach the goal of a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

See it at https://www.climateactionmuskoka.org/

Climate Action Muskoka is an inclusive, non-partisan group of citizens concerned about climate change in Muskoka who believe in working together to inspire individuals, groups, and every level of government to make the dramatic changes needed to meet this historic climate challenge. climateactionmuskoka@gmail.com

Climate Action Muskoka advocates, who have made Fridays at noon a regular protest hour, say they are “profoundly disappointed” the District of Muskoka missed an opportunity to put teeth to its weakened climate emergency resolution. (Tamsen Tillson CAM file photo)

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