Climate change officer?

Here’s something a bit unusual: Big Lakes County is thinking of hiring a ‘climate change officer.’ The first thought that occurs is, ‘How in the world can they afford another position when there’s never enough money for road maintenance? Well, we aren’t really familiar with the books over there. But if the M.D. of Lesser Slave River is anything to go by, money is tight, expectations are high and there’s never enough cash to do all the things that need doing, let along the ones you’d like to do. Or that your residents would like you to do.

But there it is in black and white, in the Dec. 15 South Peace News. ‘Big Lakes County could soon add a climate change officer to its staff,’ says the story by Richard Froese. Froese goes on to explain that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities would provide most of the funding, leaving the county with a $13,400 bill.

The opportunity was promoted to Big Lakes council as something that would ‘pay for itself many times over.’ The officer would develop an action plan on reducing energy use and emissions, among other things.

Oddly enough, the main objection on council (at least as reported in the News) was not about the money. It was more of a philosophical thing.

‘I don’t believe in climate change,’ said councillor Ann Stewart, quite bluntly.

Whether you believe in it or not, said the CAO, it’s still a good idea for the county. Councillors approved an application for the FCM funding.

What we’re wondering is if this sort of thing might catch on. Apparently it’s a big deal with the FCM. If they are willing to fork over the bulk of the cost, might we see climate change officers in every municipality? It sounds a bit far-fetched, but so did the notion of ‘communications coordinators’ as a stand-alone position in a small municipality once upon a time.

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