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  • Gayle Baker

Climate Action Report 2023: A Wake-Up Call for Salt Spring

In our recent ASK Salt Spring gathering, 16 community members welcomed Transition Salt Spring (TSS) volunteers Bryan Young (Chair) and Mary Ackenhusen, who shared their findings on the Salt Spring Island Climate Action Report Card 2023/24. Their insights shed light on our community's critical challenges regarding climate change.

Mary Ackenhusen began by welcoming everyone and setting the stage by reminding us of the significant groundwork TSS laid between 2019 and 2021 with the Climate Action Plan 2.0 (CAP). Mary underscored the importance of more than just having a plan; it's about putting it into practice and assessing its real impact.

Bryan Young took a moment for a Territorial Acknowledgment, recognizing that Truth and Reconciliation Day serves as a reminder to learn more about the land we've settled on. He encouraged everyone to explore the rich history of the Indigenous Peoples of these lands and waters, pointing to the resources for people of settler ancestry on the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council website as a valuable resource.

Returning to the Climate Action Report Card, Bryan highlighted the key message from the report card's findings: Our community is not on track to address the challenges of climate change, and urgent action is required.

He points out that our island, like so many places in the world, is grappling with multiplying threats like heatwaves, wildfire smoke, storms, forest fires, rising sea levels, and declining wildlife populations. The predicted 7-degree summer temperature increase by 2071 will significantly impact us and our ecosystems, impacting many areas of our lives, including food security and more. Anticipated sea level rise will put a quarter of Ganges underwater. The urgency is real, and we need our political leaders to treat it as such.

Bryan acknowledged that it's a lot to take in, but he stressed the importance of keeping hope despite these challenges. Every action we take helps lessen the impacts for us all in our lifetimes or on our children. The focus should be on local actions that make us more resilient and adaptive in this changing world.

He stresses that it's essential to act now, not only in terms of emissions reductions but also in adapting to the changing climate. Climate justice should be at the forefront of our efforts, as people will be impacted differently depending on factors such as housing, income, gender, and ethnicity. TSS is committed to collaborating with other community organizations and elected officials to ensure just adaptation.

The report outlines five key focus areas: forest protection, water security, food security, transportation, and built infrastructure. A "stoplight" approach was implemented in writing the report to assess progress: green for areas of success, yellow for some progress, and red for areas needing work.

In the green zone, we've seen success in protecting 525 acres of forest land, advancing watershed planning, boosting local food initiatives, and expanding electric and emergency services infrastructure. These are noteworthy achievements that deserve celebration.

However, Bryan highlights persistent challenges in areas like wildfire resilience planning and forest management. He stresses the need for collaborative efforts with government and private landowners to develop comprehensive forest risk management strategies. TSS plans to educate private landowners, who own 75% of the island's forested land, in ecological stewardship, hoping for government incentives through tax reductions.

Bryan also speaks to water security as a massive concern. It's impacting everything from housing to agriculture. He points out that we need better watershed management, an enhanced understanding of watershed hydrology, and water conservation regulations. He mentioned the TSS Climate Adaptation Research Lab's collaboration with North Salt Spring Waterworks District and their restoration work to protect and enhance the Mount Maxwell watershed.

Food security is another challenge. We've only got two days' worth of food supply on the island in case of an emergency that prevents the ferry from running. He stressed the need for coordinated efforts and shared community food storage, processing, and distribution.

Electrification and public transit are key, too. TSS is advocating for speedier electrification of BC ferries and public transportation. Future planning of housing and infrastructure needs to support active transportation.

In conclusion, Bryan expressed optimism, emphasizing the need for collective action despite past challenges in cooperation on the island. He urged the community to unite and address the urgent concerns highlighted in the Climate Action Report Card 2023/24. Gratitude was extended to the Salt Spring Foundation and CRD for funding the report, mentioning the Foundation's Climate Action Fund for larger donations that can address some of our challenges.

Following the presentation, the audience engaged in a dynamic discussion, suggesting various strategies, including managing the island's sewer system independently to allocate funds for climate action initiatives. The conversation also touched on fire risk mitigation, particularly discouraging open burning by establishing a public composting and chipping facility, as well as the pros and cons of biochar burning. TSS expressed its intent to align its messaging with the fire department's objectives, recognizing the challenge of balancing property protection and preserving ecosystems.

One audience member emphasized the importance of adopting a shorter time horizon for climate data to enhance engagement and action, making the urgency more relatable to islanders.

Lastly, there was enthusiasm for establishing a Habit for Humanity ReStore-like recycling facility and expanding existing locations like the Lions Hall or enhancing Blackburn's efficiency.

More Big News: Community generosity reigns again! -

ASK Salt Spring has a new (quieter) home, the classroom just beyond the offices and boardroom at SIMS.

Enter through the Lobby, proceed to your right to the offices and turn right again past the boardroom and enter the next room.

Transition Salt Spring (TSS) and Restorative Justice (RJ) have graciously welcomed ASK Salt Spring to use their lovely space on Fridays. (A grateful thank you to TSS and RJ!)

Please join us in our new classroom space just beyond the SIMS boardroom this Friday, October 6, 11-1, to welcome MLA Adam Olsen.

What would you like to ask him?

  • Now that the Legislature is in full swing, what do you hope to accomplish in the 2023-24 session?

  • Can you tell us which bills to watch most closely?

  • Do you think Salt Spring will be included in the proposed provincial housing requirements?

  • What are the top Salt Spring issues that concern you the most? How can you help us address them?

  • And?

Please join us to welcome Adam this Friday at our new SIMS location!

Big News:

ASK Salt Spring now has ongoing funding! A heartfelt THANK-YOU to the Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA) and its Executive Director, Peter Allen !!!

***New fundraising option***

You can now give the Return It change you earn from your bottles to ASK Salt Spring: Account #230.

Any questions, anytime:

Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings,

monthly schedule of upcoming gatherings?

Want to listen to interviews of our special guests?ASK Salt Spring Answered

Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We love your receipts! Remember: #15

Our Partners. . . .

Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA), Country Grocer through Save-a-Tape and Gift Cards and Island Savings' Simple Generosity grant.

A heartfelt Thank-You!

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