Invest in Fredericton’s clean energy future and create jobs, citizens tell their federal MP

Fredericton residents participate in public consultation hosted by Federal MP DeCourcey on May 24 at the Centre communautaire Sainte-Anne. Photo by Corey Robichaud.
Fredericton residents participate in public consultation hosted by Federal MP DeCourcey on May 24 at the Centre communautaire Sainte-Anne. Photo by Corey Robichaud.

Fredericton – Last night residents voiced their ideas for Fredericton’s renewable future at a public Town Hall for Canada’s Climate Action Plan, hosted by Federal Member of Parliament, Matt DeCourcey.
Their recommendations included everything from investing in clean-energy projects for Fredericton, to retrofitting the city’s transportation system with green technology and developing a city-wide electric car co-op, to renovating our infrastructure in preparation for extreme weather.

“It doesn’t surprise me that this community has this level of interest and expertise in this issue,” said DeCourcey. “Tonight’s session was about hearing from community members, from a range of different backgrounds, to understand their ideas and views on how we can meet our climate goal while also fostering economic opportunities for those in the region and across the country.”

Over 150 residents and representatives of First Nations, organizations such as the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, the business community and a number of local renewable energy entrepreneurs attended the consultation on May 24, 2016.

Also in attendance were Oromocto Mayor Bob Powell, provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly from Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou,Wilfred Roussel, ForestNB Executive Director, Mike Leger, and Wolastoq Grand Council Chief, Ron Tremblay.

After a brief presentation on climate change, participants were divided into small groups based on the four topics outlined by the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Fifteen groups were then given time to discuss their topic and then choose a speaker to deliver their comments to DeCourcey the rest of forum. Afterwards, the floor was left open for general comments.

DeCourcey said he walked away with “dozens of pages full of creative ideas and climate policy concerns.”

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s Executive Director, Lois Corbett, and CCNB’s Climate Change and Energy Solutions Program Director, Dr. Louise Comeau, also attended.

Corbett commented on the complexity surrounding carbon pricing and the need for education surrounding the topic. Comeau followed later with a series of principles on which to base carbon pricing in New Brunswick, including fairness and transparency.

“The public needs to be reassured that if there is going to be carbon pricing, they know where the money goes and how it will be used,” said Dr. Comeau.

Prior to Fredericton’s public consultations, the Conservation Council’s released its own provincial Climate Action Plan Proposal listing a series of suggestions to be included in the New Brunswick Climate Action Plan, which can be found here.

Some participants focused on what they saw as Canada’s conflicting interests of meeting climate goals and promoting the proposed Energy East pipeline project.

Wolastoq Grand Council Chief Tremblay reminded MP DeCourcey and those gathered at the Town Hall that lands in NB remain unceded (meaning that the First Nations of New Brunswick have never surrendered the lands and waters) and any decision concerning the treatment of indigenous lands requires the consultation of First Nations leaders and respect of the Peace and Friendship Treaties.

MP Town Halls are being held across the country to gather feedback from citizens on Canada’s Climate Action Plan, which will outline steps towards meeting national greenhouse gas reduction goals agreed to under the United Nations Paris Agreement.

The four topics open for feedback include:

· How to reduce carbon pollution and greenhouse emissions;
· How to prepare and adapt communities for the current effects of climate change;
· How to create jobs in the process; and,
· How to put a price on carbon that will not burden citizens.

Canada is expected to ratify the Paris Agreement this fall.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna used the eve of Earth Day 2016 to launch the public consultation on climate action and a climate action web portal through Environment Canada. The web portal allows Canadians to tell their story about climate change and suggest ideas on how to solve the problem in the comfort of their own home. Contributions to the website will be reviewed by members of four federal provincial/territorial working groups created in March 2016. Canadians are encouraged to submit ideas online by June 1, 2016, so they can be reviewed by working group members.

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