Councilmember discusses Climate Emergency Resolution at listening session

Samantha Ye

 

Councilmember Julie Pignataro hosted her first listening session last Saturday at the Foothills Activity Center, where a Climate Emergency Resolution became one of the main topics of discussion. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

Climate change grew into one of the dominating topics at a public listening session held by a Fort Collins City councilmember at the Foothills Activity Center July 6.

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Councilmember Julie Pignataro held her first listening session, which approximately 20 people attended, and discussed issues facing Fort Collins.  

When asked about her perspective of the recently proposed Climate Emergency Resolution, Pignataro emphasized the messaging purpose of the resolution. 

“It has many different intents, one of which is to send a message to other municipalities and higher up in the government that, ‘Hey, we’re taking this pretty seriously, and you should too,’” Pignataro said.

A draft of a potential CER was brought by citizens to Council last meeting and directed for further development by Pignataro herself. 

When she ran for Council, Pignataro said part of her platform focused on improving the way the City communicates with the community, and a CER is another way of communicating with residents. She said she brought up drafting something similar during Council retreat, and it wouldn’t change policy.

It has many different intents, one of which is to send a message to other municipalities and higher up in the government that, ‘Hey, we’re taking this pretty seriously, and you should too.’” -Julie Pignataro, Fort Collins City councilmember

Pignataro noted that the taste for resolutions has soured among some councilmembers. 

Last Tuesday, Mayor Wade Troxell and councilmember Ken Summers voiced initial opposition to declaring a climate emergency when the City already has its Climate Action Plan in place.

One session attendee called Troxell dismissing sea-level rise a “reverse NIMBY,” or, “It’s not in my backyard, so I don’t give a damn.”

Others shared their own sense of urgency about effectively addressing climate change. 

“We were modeling climate change 50 years ago, and it didn’t bother me much back then because I didn’t think I’d be alive today,” one resident said. “But the impact it’s having is now and still no one’s worried about solving it.” 

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Several attendees offered their tangential solutions to the problem. 

Resident Eric Sutherland said climate discussions always lack solutions and that to deliver on the City’s sustainability goals, the City must hire solution-oriented people. 

“It all has to be framed in terms of solutions,” Sutherland said.

Other residents said they want a rail system to happen, either across town, to Denver or to southern Colorado. The most recent proposed rail project would link Fort Collins and Pueblo, according to the Coloradoan. 

Such a massive public transportation effort would be a “game changer,” said one resident speaking on behalf of her elderly father. And it would be a cleaner, more reliable form of transportation, according to the Colorado Rail Passenger Association.

But any rail project would be a massive coordination effort between state, local and community institutions, and attendees urged Council to start taking the lead on the development now. 

Pignataro said climate change is a big problem with many possible solutions, and a CER could shape up to be part of that. 

Although four councilmembers voiced support for the declaration, Pignataro said the discussion is just beginning. 

“We are doing a lot as a City to help with climate,” Pignataro said. “But let’s repackage what we’re doing and get that communication out in a different way.”

Other topics discussed at the listening session included developing more trails and paths open to bikers, better informing people how to appeal a development, possibly creating a third-party review board to look at final developments before they’re built and making other forms of listening sessions, such as a multi-councilmember or topical listening session. 

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4