The Kelowna faction of Extinction Rebellion urges you to come out and join them this November 29th for a global climate strike and demand that Kelowna City Council declare a climate emergency, following earlier declarations made this year by Vancouver, Richmond, New Westminster, Port Moody, North Vancouver and West Vancouver, along with 450 other municipalities across Canada. “Kelowna City Council does not want to declare a climate emergency or appoint a citizens’ assembly, citing their current climate plan as a reason (hint: it’s woefully inadequate)”, writes the faction. “A good climate plan has clear deadlines and accountability, and we have seen countless initiatives rolled back or delayed over the years. A wish list is not a plan–concrete. Drastic action is required.”
A little over a dozen members of Extinction Rebellion protested along the Bennet Bridge in early October, displaying signs to passing vehicles. “It’s so important people speak up because this is a crucial time,” protester Holly McLeod said. “There have been forest fires. There’s desertification. I mean if you look globally, there are islands underwater,” protester Jessica Kent added. “There are already people being pushed off their land. A huge migration of people is happening, and it’s only going to get worse.”
The upcoming peaceful protest will take place on the street outside of City Hall beginning at 1pm on Friday, November 29th. Extinction Rebellion will be joined by the Kamloops Red Brigade, dancers dressed in crimson outfits and white face makeup who last made headlines in early October protesting outside of Cando yard on Mission Flats, where pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline has been stored.
Protesters also want everyone to apply pressure to federal leaders to tackle climate change. The group writes, “the world is facing a mass species extinction. Millions of people have been displaced due to rising sea levels, droughts, and fires. Canada is warming rapidly; numerous studies have shown that we will be facing more droughts and forest fires than ever before. And yet the government still gives out fossil fuel subsidies. Trans Mountain, although unsustainable, is still being pushed forward. Discussions around animal agriculture, which is the second largest GHG emissions source, have not been broached by a single political party. It’s time to make our voices heard!”.
Earlier this year Mayor Colin Basran said, “we are not considering going down that same path,” responding to the climate emergency declaration made by Vancouver. Councillor Christine Boyle, who moved the Vancouver resolution, said that could include new methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond the city’s current climate targets, as well as the creation of a special working group to support Vancouver’s efforts to transition away from fossil fuels. Meanwhile Basran said at the time that he is happy with the moves his city has made at a corporate level to address climate change. This is your chance to remind him that he and most of his fellow councillors approved a new gas station and car wash to be built along the Clement Avenue corridor in downtown Kelowna just this past June, further incentivizing car dependancy in the core of our city. That’s some corporate level climate action.
This upcoming climate strike date also marks a great time for your voice to be heard while the city’s integrated transportation department manager Rafael Villarreal entertains ideas about future major road projects around the city to try and reduce traffic congestion as he did recently on October 28th, rather than the city taking a very hard look at its pretty woeful public transportation system.
“I’m most concerned about the government’s lack of willingness to do something. I think their responsibility is to protect the people and not the corporations, and I don’t see that happening at the moment,” Extinction Rebellion member Holly McLeod says. “People who are already marginalized are usually hit hardest by climate change. Quite often, it’s Indigenous peoples, people who have contributed the least to climate change — they’re the ones who are suffering the most at the moment,” she adds.
Just this past Tuesday, an open letter signed by thousands of scientists from around the world published in the journal BioScience may be the clearest demonstration yet of the unanimous agreement over the globe’s climate crisis. The letter includes 11,258 signatures from 153 countries, including 409 from Canada. Dozens of Canadian scientists have already affixed their names to at least six open letters related to climate change since 2015. They have called for a moratorium on new oilsands mines, changes to the Fisheries Act, an end to liquid natural gas development.
If there is a time to get the City of Kelowna on board with this emergency, it is at this rally.