Talking about the looming Climate Crisis in Lethbridge is....weird. It's hard to motivate folks to see the changing climate as the disaster it is when we seem to have only minimal effects on our local area. We see the extreme weather events in other parts of the world and, given how exhausted everyone is by the current COVID-19 crisis, overwhelmed health-care system, abysmal leadership from provincial and federal leaders, and an economy in the basement the best most of us can muster is an apathetic shrug when it comes to climate change.
The crisis fatigue is real. I totally get that.
Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of picking and choosing what needs our attention anymore. That may have worked in previous decades but now the facts are simple: we're out of time.
However, this isn't a doom-and-gloom post. There's actually opportunity here that I am excited to highlight, so let's dive into how Lethbridge can grow, promote climate resiliency, AND address a lot of our social problems.
Checking 2 Boxes at Once: addressing climate crisis & brain drain.
Throughout the campaign we've heard a lot about how we attract young people to the City and ensure that students studying at our two world-class post-secondary institutions want to stay here and work, raise families, and grow our local economy. Well, attracting folks to live and stay in the community takes a lot of work, and part of that work is finding out what the priorities are for the people you're trying to attract.
I'm 32 years old, and I can tell you the climate crisis is a top priority for people my age and younger.
In addition to having good jobs and affordable housing, I want to know the city I am living in is taking the Climate Crisis seriously and this just isn't something we've seen from local leadership yet. Having a plan to address Climate Change, and actually implementing those steps as it makes sense to do so, will help ensure that Lethbridge remains a vibrant city for generations to come.
Having a plan is the first step, and Lethbridge already has a good one. There were significant portions of the Municipal Development Plan that deal with climate issues and protocols. You can read about them in detail, and decide which priorities you would like to see implemented the soonest, then you can email your council to help push them in the right direction.
There's another opportunity in Lethbridge that we are just starting to realize as well. Lethbridge is a gateway city to adventures on the prairies and we really should be marketing ourselves this way. We have an airport, we are an hour away from mountains, prairies, lakes, national parks, world heritage sites, and in the heart of our city is the adventure playground that is our river-bottom filled with historical places, art, wilderness trails, and educational centers. The gem that is our river-bottom is underutilized by both the people who live here, and the City as a tool to leverage our adventure tourism marketing.
When I came here to go to school, the complaint of my companions was often that there's nothing to "do" in the City. Let's figure out what "do" is, and help local businesses capitalize on the "do". Lethbridge Tourism, which is new since the last election, is really making great strides in promoting the city and the region with eco-tourism and adventure-tourism, which is great!
So, what does Climate Leadership look like at the Municipal level, & why should we care?
Climate Leadership is putting leaders in positions of power to make fundamental changes to priorities at local government levels. Funding priorities through budget adaptation is a tool available to local leaders to dramatically affect how we spend money going forward.
As a candidate, I guarantee that all of my policy decisions will be viewed through several lenses to ensure the decisions meet my priorities. Those lenses are:
I'm not advocating for unbridled growth for the sake of growing either. We need to put leaders in place that understand that in order for Lethbridge to flourish in the future, we need to grow in harmony with the land and walk gently upon it. We can make small policy adjustments, and spending priority adjustments to encourage changes in behaviour. This kind of policy making is often referred to rather divisively as "social engineering" and people often feel resistant to this type of leadership. However, if you look closely at the world around you, you can see the effects of "social engineering" by large corporations that have, over decades of insidious backroom deals, created a world in which our enjoyment and ability to thrive is based solely on our consumer habits that further enrich these corporations.
Personally, I've hit my limit on how much I allow my actions to be controlled by the vested interests of planet-demolishing business. I prefer to find ways to adapt my living to my world, rather than my world to my living. This is what I mean when I say we need to elect progressive leadership: leaders who will look at the complete and complex picture of society and know where to make the little tweaks and changes to allow for the best life for the most people. That's my aim on Council: to make things better. To move Lethbridge Forward. Together.