Saanich Council considers Right to Healthy Environment

Dean Murdock, Saanich Councillor, and Chair, Saanich Environment and Natural Areas Committee, writes: 

Hello friends,

We have a chance to stand up for environmental rights in Saanich! On Monday night, your Council will vote on a resolution for a right to healthy environment. Here’s your chance to let Mayor and council know you want to see the resolution passed in Saanich (the wording is included below).

What can I do?

  • Write to Mayor and Council here: Urge Council to pass a resolution in support of the Right to a Healthy Environment
  • Show your support by attending the meeting in the Council Chamber, 770 Vernon Ave, on January 26th at 7:30pm
  • Tell Mayor and Council directly about what environmental rights mean to you, your family, and friends. Each person can speak for 5 minutes – there is no need to register beforehand.

Vancouver Island communities like Victoria, Duncan, and Ladysmith have passed similar resolutions on environmental rights. We can make a difference right here in Saanich by standing up for clean air, fresh water, and safe food. Let’s make sure Saanich remains on the leading edge of sustainability.

Wording of the resolution:

WHEREAS the David Suzuki Foundation Blue Dot Tour has inspired many Canadians to request that the right to a healthy environment be enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedom through support of the following motion;

AND WHEREAS the District of Saanich understands that people are part of the environment, and that a healthy environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community;

AND WHEREAS the Saanich Official Community Plan provides a strong policy foundation to pursue actions and initiatives that contribute toward a healthy environment;

AND WHERESAS Saanich has the opportunity to endorse the Declaration of the Right to a Healthy Environment, joining other Canadian cities in re-affirming our commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT The District of Saanich endorses the following declaration in principle and forwards it to the next Committee of the Whole to allow for public in-put.

“All people have the right to live in a healthy environment, including:

  • The right to breathe clean air;
  • The right to drink clean water;
  • The right to consume safe food;
  • The right to access nature;
  • The right to know about pollutants and contaminants released into the local environment;
  • The right to participate in decision-making that will affect the environment.

The District of Saanich has the responsibility, within its jurisdiction, to respect, protect, fulfill and promote these rights.

The District of Saanich will apply the precautionary principle: where threats of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment exist, Saanich will take cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment and protect the health of its citizens. Lack of full scientific certainty shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for Saanich to postpone such measures.

Saanich shall apply full cost accounting; when evaluating reasonably foreseeable costs of proposed  actions and alternatives, Saanich will consider costs to human health and the environment.

By December 31, 2015, Saanich will consider objectives, targets, timelines and actions within its jurisdiction to fulfill residents’ rights to a healthy environment, including options to:

  • Ensure equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens within the municipality;
  • Ensure infrastructure and development projects protect the environment, including air quality;
  • Address Climate Change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing adaptation measures;
  • Responsibly increase density;
  • Prioritize walking, cycling and public transit as preferred modes of transportation;
  • Ensure adequate infrastructure for the provision of safe and accessible drinking water;
  • Promote the availability of safe foods;
  • Reduce solid waste and promote recycling and composting;
  • Establish and maintain accessible green spaces in all residential neighbourhoods;

The District of Saanich shall review these objectives, targets, timelines and actions every five years, and evaluate progress towards fulfilling this declaration.

The District of Saanich will consult residents as part of this process.” 

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Council forward this resolution to the Annual Meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, requesting favourable consideration by delegates at the 2015 annual meetings of these Associations.

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