The Regional District of Central Kootenay has cancelled upcoming public meetings related to the district’s new climate action plan due to safety concerns.
“We got some comments and information that made us a little concerned about the safety of our staff at some of these open houses as well as the attendees,” RDCK CAO Stuart Horn told Castlegar News on May 18.
“We wanted to ensure a safe environment, and we got the indication it might not be that way.”
Horn said there was not a specific threat, but rather a “general rhetoric” occurring both online and in person.
In an RDCK media release, Horn said, “We value the input from the public and want to ensure all members of the community have a chance to participate without the fear of intimidation. We understand the disappointment this announcement may cause, however, we firmly believe prioritizing the safety of our staff, attendees, and the community as a whole is paramount.”
The 17 open-house meetings were scheduled between May 23 and July 5 after some residents pushed back against the plan at an April 20 RDCK board meeting.
Based on that feedback, the board decided to postpone adopting the plan and set up more consultation.
Horn says the RDCK realizes that the initial public engagement period for the plan, which included only two, mostly virtual, open houses, was too short.
“Based on the feedback we received, that wasn’t enough,” said Horn. “We obviously should have done more.”
“Hopefully we can turn this into a positive and allow more time for people to provide their feedback.”
Horn expects a new schedule that includes 17 meetings will be ready by mid-June.
The delay of the meetings also means that the board will not be voting on the plan in August, as previously scheduled.
The RDCK says the draft climate action plan is a proposed four-year guidance plan, focused on identifying supports that reflect the diverse needs of RDCK residents. The plan and an accompanying workbook are available at rdck.ca.
The district says it is also trying to correct “misinformation circulating in the public and on social media … causing confusion and misunderstanding among the public.”
The RDCK says the plan is a guidance plan, not a regulatory plan. Adoption of the plan will provide staff and board direction to explore opportunities through projects and programs that could support greater resilience in communities and are aligned with community needs.
The second clarification is that the concept of “15-minute cities” is not included in the plan. The RDCK says it is not planning for 15-minute cities.