Fossil fuel funding will continue
Kristen Holliday - May 09, 2024 - Biz Releases

A recommendation to put a stop to fossil fuel funding for two municipal government conferences sparked debate among local elected officials last week, with the group ultimately voting to defeat the motion.

Brian Guy, a Vernon councillor, spoke to the resolution at the Southern Interior Local Government Association conference in Kamloops last week, saying he was confident SILGA could replace any lost oil and gas funding.

“Let’s break free of the messaging and the complacency that makes fires and floods worse, and take charge of the future,” Guy said. “That is what our communities and our kids and grandkids expect from us.”

The Vernon-sponsored resolution said carbon-based fuels cause climate warming with harmful socio-economic and environmental consequences. It noted the province is developing legislation and incentives to “decarbonize the economy.”

The resolution recommended SILGA and the Union of B.C. Municipalities no longer accept funding from the fossil fuel industry and its lobby groups to support conventions and meetings.

“What we hear from the oil and gas sector is, you guys can just all relax, and let us take care of the energy transition on our timeline. But these messages are not helpful,” Guy said. “They promote complacency when instead we need to be taking action.”

Kelowna Coun. Charlie Hodge agreed with Guy, saying moving away from using fossil fuels takes time, but it must be done.

“We are a room full of supposed leaders, and we have not as a collective group done a very good job of leading the charge against reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and our impact on our world,” Hodge said.

Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer, who is also the Conservative Party of B.C.’s candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson in the upcoming provincial election, received cheers from some in the room when he asked how many people drove a gas or diesel-powered vehicle to the convention.

“If we all had electrified vehicles, where would we plug them in? Do we honestly believe that we are going to be self sufficient with electricity in this province,” he asked.

Stamer noted SILGA executives are looking at other revenue streams for sponsorships, but fossil fuel companies brought in a lot of revenue.

“If we didn’t have the support of our fossil fuel companies in here, that would cost us about $25,000 in revenues for this convention alone. That would mean that we would have to increase our membership dues by about 43 per cent,” Stamer said.

Kamloops Coun. Bill Sarai agreed with Stamer, telling delegates that nobody could definitively tell city council that electricity would be abundant and readily available to all in B.C. — particularly given the housing boost over the coming years.

“Until we get a reliable source of energy than the fossil fuels that we’re all degrading right now and saying it’s the end of the world — [they] have been around for almost 100 years, helping us get where we are, and they understand we’re going to change over. All they’re saying is let us be your backup ’till we get there,” he said.

“I don’t want to go through a Kamloops winter not knowing if I’m going to be able to turn on my furnace.”

District of Peachland Coun. Keith Thom, who described himself as a “tree-hugging, water-loving” person who thinks too much fossil fuels are being burned, said he was standing against the Vernon resolution.

Thom said in his Ontario hometown, there was discord among the local Mennonite church when “a place of ill repute that sold alcohol” offered to put in a new sidewalk.

“They had great debate about it until the bishop got called into this bedlam, and said, in his words, ‘Accept the money. Let’s use the devil’s money for good,’” Thom said.

“I appreciate the sponsorship of our fossil fuel supporters. …I think let’s use their money.”

Delegates ultimately voted to turn down the motion.

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