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'What message are we sending': Calgary council delays debate over $87B climate strategy

Calgary councillors won't vote on the city's climate plan until next month, despite the mayor's insistence that the delay sends the wrong message. 

In May, a city committee endorsed a plan with a goal to reach net zero by 2050 and become climate resilient through dozens of initiatives, including building retrofits, renewable energy projects and bolstering low-carbon transportation projects. 

The plan is estimated to cost about $87 billion over nearly three decades, with the cost covered by all levels of government and private industry. The plan could also save about $80 billion in energy costs, according to the 99-page report from administration. 

While a debate and vote on the plan was on this week's council agenda, the majority of council decided to send it to a July 5 meeting instead.

"What message are we sending to the world, who is in our city, watching us to be leaders in energy transformation? Well, the message that some of my colleagues sent today is 'Meh, this can wait,'" said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

"That is not driving investor confidence, and I hope they get what they need out of that July 5 meeting," she added.

Part of the reason for the delay in the vote is because some members of council were travelling to Toronto on Tuesday afternoon on city business. Another reason for the delay, say some councillors, is that messaging wasn't clear and more answers are needed before moving forward.

"Some people made the assumption, particularly on social media, that the $87 billion is city taxpayer money – and that is not the case. That didn't come out very clearly in the committee meeting, that's something we need to discuss and debate," said Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong.

In anticipation of the vote, about two dozen people gathered on the steps of city hall to show their support of the climate initiative. While some who showed up understand the apprehension about the cost of the climate plan, they say it's still an initiative that needs to move ahead.

"I have concerns about that number, too," said Angela McIntyre with the Calgary Climate Hub. "It needs to be clearly defined in a way that people can understand it together. The truth is that we cannot make a municipal decision without it being a climate decision."

The vote and debate on the plan is now set for July 5. Top Stories

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