Owen Sound will create a new city position focused on climate change with $105,000 budgeted in 2020 for the role.
City council approved a staff recommendation at its meeting Monday to approve the hiring of a climate change adaptation and mitigation coordinator for the city, although a specific job description still needs to come back to council at its next meeting.
City manager Wayne Ritchie says the intent is the position will be full-time, permanent.
Coun. Thomas moved the motion and called it a “bold” step forward for the city.
"I think this is giving us a real chance to move forward and actually, seriously, address climate change and take a leadership role in Grey County," Thomas says.
Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy says council signed off on the $105,000 expense in 2020 for the new position in budget deliberations last month.
The approval of the new position came as the city manager delivered a report on possible actions to be taken to deal with climate change.
Council resolved in December to direct staff to prepare a report detailing actions the city might take to deal with climate change -- including a suggested course of action on how it can meet United Nations emissions targets of 45 per cent by 2030 -- and net zero by 2050.
Part of the recommendation adopted by council Monday also included the undertaking of a strategic plan review this year. The city's official plan will also be looked at in 2020.
Ritchie says a staff member with the academic training, work experience and dedicated time to assist the community at the beginning of these processes would be beneficial.
"This expertise on staff will allow council and the public an understanding of where the city is currently, what are optimistic but achievable targets for where we want to be, what actions and policies may get us there, and how do we best measure the results," Ritchie says in a report.
In 2015 when Owen Sound's strategic plan was last reviewed, Ritchie says the community was not as focused on climate change as it is today. He expects the environmental pillar of an updated strategic plan will reflect that.
David Walton, chair of Climate Action Team Grey-Bruce, attended council's meeting Monday to commend councillors on recent initiatives including the resolution in December to look into actions the city might take to deal with climate change, and now the addition of a new role focused on it.
"They are positive steps," Walton says.