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New reserve fund would be 'important tool' in climate change fight: Fallis

City staff will look into feasibility of creating reserve; 'It only makes logical sense,' councillor says
2019-05-03 Orillia climate strike 1
A climate strike demonstration was held Friday, May 3, 2019, in front of the Orillia City Centre. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters file photo

The city is looking at the possibility of creating a climate change reserve fund.

Coun. Jay Fallis introduced a motion during Monday’s council committee meeting, calling on staff to look into “the feasibility of establishing a climate change reserve for consideration as part of the 2022 draft budget that would then be accessed to offset future costs that emanate from any recommendations proposed within the climate change action plan …”

“If we do end up going forward with the creation of this climate change action plan, I really believe this could be an important tool in addressing some of the costs that could be contained within that,” Fallis said.

Coun. Tim Lauer questioned the need for a report on the “feasibility” of creating the reserve, noting the city can establish those funds for “almost anything.”

Amanpreet Singh Sidhu, manager of corporate services/city solicitor, said staff will be undertaking a review of its reserves and Fallis’s request will be included as part of that process.

He also wants to be sure the city knows what it can and can’t do from a legal perspective so it doesn’t “encroach upon the federal government’s jurisdiction.”

The idea of creating a climate change reserve didn’t sit well with Coun. Ralph Cipolla.

“I’m a strong believer in climate change … My concern is that the next two years are going to be really critical to our community in terms of funds — dollars and cents,” he said.

“Because staff is already doing a great job with this, I don’t think we need a reserve.”

Coun. Mason Ainsworth pointed out council members, including Cipolla, supported putting $120,000 toward the creation of a climate change action plan.

“It only makes logical sense to make a reserve for this,” Ainsworth said.

“I’m not saying that we don’t eventually have a reserve for this,” Cipolla responded, but added he believes the federal government will make funding available to municipalities to tackle climate change on a local level.

Fallis received enough support for his motion to pass.

Staff will report back at a later date.