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Letter: Time to put climate in the city budget

‘Zero is the amount of dedicated funding for climate mitigation and adaptation in our city’s budget’

Coming on the heels of COP26, and in the midst of the third extreme climate disaster in a year for our neighbours in B.C., let’s talk about climate and the Greater Sudbury 2022 budget, which council started debating on Nov. 29. Since it’s a budget, let’s go through some numbers.

Zero is the amount of dedicated funding for climate mitigation and adaptation in our city’s budget.

That is probably why key actions from our Community Energy and Emissions Plan show up as optional business cases instead of a sure thing.

Here’s the top three of those climate action business cases. 

First is building the next stage of the Paris Notre-Dame bikeway, which would complete a safe cycling route all the way from Lasalle to Walford. The amount of federal funding that could be leveraged for this project: $3.3 million.

Ninety is the percentage of Greater Sudbury residents that support adding bike lanes on all major roads. The amount of funding available through the federal Active Transportation Fund, which we could be taking advantage of to transform our community with a complete network of safe cycling routes, is $400 million.

Second is an implementation plan to electrify transit. The amount of funding that could be leveraged for this plan: $88,000. Zero is the amount of federal funding available to replace or add buses if we don’t electrify.

Third is an Urban Forest Master Plan so we can protect the trees we have to sequester carbon, provide shade, improve air quality and prevent flooding. The net number of city trees lost per year the last time it was measured: 400.

More than $7.5 billion is the expected cost of the latest flooding disaster in B.C., giving us a small taste of the price of inaction. Acting on climate takes money. Not acting costs much much more.

Zero is the number of times the word ‘climate’ appears in our city’s long-term financial plan.

Zero is the chance we will meet our emission reduction targets and protect ourselves from climate impacts if we don’t fund climate action.

If we invest in implementing our Community Energy and Emissions Plan, $14.6 billion is the total net savings and 1,300 is the number of new jobs per year anticipated. Climate action costs money. But it pays back much more than it costs.

Former Vancouver chief planner Brent Toderian famously said, “The truth about a city's aspirations isn't found in its vision, it's found in its budget.” Climate action is a strategic priority of this council — it’s past time to put climate in the budget.

What can council do? They can vote in favour of building the next section of the Paris-Notre Dame bikeway, electrifying transit and creating an Urban Forest Management Plan in this budget. And then they can provide direction to properly resource climate mitigation and adaptation in future base budgets, for a safe community for all of us.

Naomi Grant