By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Concerned Invermere residents are keeping the torch to district officials’ feet when it comes to climate change. Invermere council members made dealing with climate change one of the district’s official strategic priorities earlier this summer, but local residents — eager to not have council rest on its laurels too long thereafter — are now looking to council for updates and the opportunity to give input into the district’s efforts on the matter.

Invermere resident, Tracy Flynn, sent a letter to council last month, prompting discussion at the Tuesday, Oct. 26 council meeting. Flynn noted that the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) has held thorough discussions about what is being done in the RDEK about climate change adaptation, what still needs to be done, and how residents can be informed about it but added she hadn’t yet been able to determine a way to provide input into Invermere’s own climate change action priorities report.

Flynn’s letter outlined several suggestions the district may want to consider for its report, such as figuring out ways to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, setting up clean air and cooling shelters or centres offering residents respite from forest fires and heatwaves, encouraging homeowners to install high-efficiency air filters before the next wildfire season, putting more solar panels on district buildings, transitioning such buildings completely to non-renewable energy sources in 30 years time, replacing district vehicles with zero-emission vehicles, and immediately implementing the B.C. Energy Step Code building code.

She also suggested having the bylaw officer dedicate one day per month to educating about or enforcing the district’s anti-idling bylaw, updating the climate change adaption page on the district website to include greenhouse emission reduction targets and links to reports listed on the page, as well as current incentive programs, and having an Invermere council or staff member join the Climate Caucus organization.

“I like that it’s action-focused and solution-focused,” said Invermere councillor, Gerry Taft, of the letter, adding that unfortunately, things are not moving quite as quickly as it appears Flynn may think, based on her letter. “It doesn’t feel like we’ve started any projects yet…it’s going to take time to start working on this,” he said, adding Flynn’s clear passion for the topic is valuable, and the district should “keep her engaged.”

Invermere mayor, Al Miller, said the district and council may need to better communicate to the public some of the climate change mitigation efforts it had already undertaken, noting that last summer, the district did, in fact, set up one of the clean air and cooling shelters or centres Flynn proposed in her letter.

“We’ll try and get our communications up,” said Miller.