Climate change plan
By Chad Ingram
Published Jan. 25, 2018
As local politicians heard last week, there are a number of ways municipal governments can help reduce carbon emissions in their communities, thereby helping to mitigate climate change.
Councillors and staff from throughout the county as well as members of the public packed the Minden Hills Community Centre for an informative session featuring representatives from provincial ministries who spoke about the ways municipalities can and are taking action.
Through responsible planning and transportation policies, as well employing environmentally sustainable practices and new technologies when it comes to their own facilities and vehicle fleets, municipal governments can help address a global problem by greening up their own proverbial backyards.
They can also encourage residents to live greener lifestyles. Some Ontario municipalities are starting programs where they fund environmentally sustainable residential retrofits and residents repay the local government through an agreement on their tax bills. That is innovative.
There is funding available for the creation of municipal climate change plans, and it’s funding Haliburton County council should avail itself of. A climate change plan at the upper tier level would make more sense than each of the four lower-tier townships working in silos.
Obviously, this year is an election year. Councils are finishing up projects and, before long, councillors seeking re-election will be hitting the campaign trail. As such, it might make sense to wait until a new county council is formed at the end of the year. However, a climate change plan should be one of the priorities of that new council.
On the books
Last week, Algonquin Highlands councillors had another in what is becoming a series of discussions about the future of the Dorset branch of the Haliburton County Public Library. With very low circulation numbers, there is consideration of the idea of turning the library into a sort of book depot, where residents could pick up books they’ve ordered and drop off ones they’ve read. While it would continue to house computers for the public to use, the space in the Dorset Recreation Centre would no longer function as a traditional library.
One member of council has a spouse who works at the library branch. Despite this, he did not declare a conflict of interest on the matter and took part in the conversation. He was hesitant about the idea of closing the branch.
Provincial legislation leaves it incumbent upon elected officials to decide what constitutes a conflict of interest. It is up to them to decide when a conflict is occurring, declare it, and recuse themselves from conversation surrounding that issue.
Some councillors are overly cautious in his way, declaring a conflict at the even slightest appearance of one. This case appears to be more than that.
The councillor should not be partaking in a conversation that could ultimately directly impact members of his household. He should have recused himself from last week’s discussion, and should recuse himself from all future conversations regarding the fate of the library branch in Dorset.