The evidence of climate change is everywhere, from severe drought conditions to back-to-back record-setting wildfire seasons.

To that end, One Cowichan is calling on local governments to declare a climate emergency and more than six hundred signatures have already found there way onto a petition.

Jane Kilthea with One Cowichan said the declaration of a climate emergency is key because it gets the ball moving downhill.

“A climate emergency is really a statement that local government is ready to up their game on climate change, ready to invest and focus and do what’s needed at a more rapid pace than has been happening,” said Kilthea.

However, CVRD Board Chair Ian Morrison said the regional district has a policy where it doesn’t engage in declarations and proclamations, adding that local government is already doing a lot to address climate change.

“Now we can talk about the amazing work local governments, not just at the regional district, are already doing,” said Morrison. “I’ve been an elected official [for] ten years and that’s been the predominant theme throughout my ten years as a member of the board. We’re doing great work on the climate file.

Kilthea said local governments need to know they need to be the leaders in the fight against climate change.

“In addition to getting those names on the petition, local people who want their voices heard by local government,” said Kilthea. “The focus of the petition is to really keep, front and centre, that climate change and acting on climate change matters to the people of the Cowichan Valley and to make sure that local governments know they have social licence to act.”

Morrison said the regional district, along with other local municipalities are already taking important steps toward climate action.

“If you’re not already going on this sort of work, like the regional district and the local municipalities have, you’re probably too late,” said Morrison. “I’d encourage organizations and local governments that aren’t considering climate change, climate adaptation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, looking at alternative energy sources, if they aren’t already doing that, they should be.”

The CVRD board will address this issue at its regular meeting tonight.

Morrison said the regional district and local municipalities are already tracking greenhouse gas emissions, finding alternative energy sources, working on climate adaptation, and flood mapping for sea-level rise.

49 local groups have endorsed a letter that has been sent to the CVRD.