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Courtenay council drafting climate accountability letter

COURTENAY, B.C- Courtenay’s municipal government may be sending a letter to fossil fuel companies in the future.

That decision is in response to a presentation from the Dogwood Initiative, a non-profit based in British Columbia, which advocates for support for environmental causes.

The group sent a delegation to council in late January, encouraging them to send a “climate accountability letter” to twenty of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. They included a draft letter, addressed to Chevron, talking about Courtenay’s flood costs.

Andrew Gage, a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), handled the bulk of the presentation.

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Speaking to council, he indicated that changing climate conditions have already been impacting the area in the form of floods, droughts, and wildfires on Vancouver Island, which provided the reason for the city government to send a message to fossil fuel companies.

He also stressed that the city wasn’t being asked to file a lawsuit, though he did describe that as a “next step” and “tool” used to pressure companies.

The reception from council was fairly positive to the points that Gage was raising, though the question of actually sending a letter wasn’t addressed in detail.

It came back to council for discussion on Tuesday evening, and according to Mayor Bob Wells, it’s moving forward. Councillors Doug Hillian and Will Cole-Hamilton have been tasked to draft a letter, which will come back to the council table for debate.

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“We’re not specifically interested in signing a letter that is adversarial, and so what we’re looking to do is actually draft a letter that is more designed to create dialogue and discussion, it’s not going to be as adversarial as the one that was presented to us,” said Wells.

“We still have to ratify it once it comes back, but (we’re) looking at something that is a lot more in tune of dialogue and trying to have a discussion, rather than the letter that was presented.”

Wells believed the draft letter would come back to council in the next few weeks, though Hillian and Cole-Hamilton were not given a date to report back by.

“It won’t take too long,” said Wells.


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