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City of Powell River to explore donation program to increase climate action reserve fund

Initiative to issue tax receipts for climate action purposes proposed by councillor
SEEKING CONTRIBUTIONS: Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman has proposed amending policy to allow City of Powell River to issue tax receipts to people who want to donate toward the city’s climate action reserve fund.

City of Powell River will examine mechanisms to provide an opportunity for people to donate toward climate action initiatives.

At the July 13 city committee of the whole meeting, councillors reviewed a memo from councillor CaroleAnn Leishman that outlined providing a way for people to provide a contribution or donation to the municipality toward the climate action reserve fund in exchange for a tax receipt.

At the meeting, Leishman said there have been extreme climate change-related heat waves and the town of Lytton burned to the ground, which is “just devastating.”

“Many members of the community have been reaching out to me for quite a while, but more so, when big events happen, asking if there are ways they can contribute to helping in some way, contributing to climate action,” said Leishman. “A lot of people have said, ‘why don’t we start a local energy cooperative.’ That would be great but that’s not something that could happen quickly. It’s not really in the purview of the local government to start an energy cooperative.”

Leishman said the city is able to provide tax receipts to people who make donations to the city.

“Our city has been doing such amazing work on climate action, thanks to our sustainability planner and staff members in all departments who are taking climate change seriously, and to our climate change committee,” said Leishman. “There’s been a lot of work done and it has been incredible to see all of the grant money we have received and all of the projects we’ve been able to do, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and our costs for utilities.”

Leishman said if the city puts together a simple program where donations to the climate action reserve fund are given tax receipts, it’s also a way to let the public know what the city is doing for climate action and how people can be part of that.

“It’s a way to feel less helpless and to feel like you’re giving back to your community,” said Leishman.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she likes the idea and that it is a way of formalizing a way for people to contribute to climate action and what the city does in that regard. She said the elimination of the province’s climate action revenue incentive program that contributed funds to the city’s climate action reserve means the city is in danger of not having any reserves.

Mayor Dave Formosa said he thinks it’s a good idea if the public feels this is something near and dear to their hearts.

“As councillor Leishman has shown, we’ve done a heck of a lot of good things,” said Formosa. “We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to get grants that have saved the city money. It’s an ongoing process and it’s going to require a lot of cash that we don’t necessarily have for all of the projects, so I like the idea.”

The committee approved a recommendation that stated the committee of the whole direct staff to bring back suggested amendments to council policy 201 (donations) and to the climate action reserve fund policy to include donations from community members in exchange for a charitable tax receipt as sources of revenue toward climate action projects, with a report including a suggested communication strategy for a climate contribution partnership program.