One side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stalled economy has been a dramatic drop in pollution in many sectors. When the wheels of the economy begin to turn again, society will be in a unique position to re-align itself in a more ecologically sustainable manner.
That was the gist of a roundtable Mayor Natasha Kulikowski sat in April 29, a monthly gathering of minds to discuss how municipalities can blend more in with nature. The group call was facilitated by the Climate Caucus, a group of over 200 elected officials from across Canada.
“This experience has really made clear what we all care about,” said Kulikowski. “We want everyone to be safe, have food and shelter, be able to pay their rent and have access to supports. As we look to the future and eventually emerge from the crisis, we want to see what ways we can reflect and re-imagine relationships with communities and how we rebuild going forward.
“Part of the topic was the choices we make now and in the months to come can really help us build a future that is better than the normal that we knew.”
The meeting was chaired by Dr. David Suzuki and Melina Laboucan-Massimo. The climate caucus connects remotely every few weeks to exchange notes and update each other on progress on local projects.
“For myself, it was very inspiring to hear the work that they’re doing and getting a little advice on how things could look moving forward,” said Kulikowski. “One of them was the communities that are finding ways to get off-grid and off diesel power and how this situation has escalated the speed in which they’re doing those things.
“It left me wondering, for Inuvik, the Beaufort Delta and the region, if things would be expedited and how they could be in terms of green energy or even just non-diesel fuel production.”
Inuvik currently generates most of its electricity from diesel fuel. Solar panels around town also help generate electricity for a few buildings. A $40 million wind farm is planned to be constructed this summer, though the COVID-19 pandemic has put the scheduling in question.
Inuvik Drum has reached out to the NWT Power Corporation for clarification on the construction date.
Kulikowski said the project was out of the town’s hands, but noted she had heard roadwork was being done at the site at one point.
NWT Power was also scheduled to present its strategic plan to Inuvik Town Council this summer, though the pandemic has delayed those plans as well.
“Pre-COVID we were hearing that we were going to see them in a couple months,” said Kulikowski. “Now we’ll see if they’ll do a presentation through a platform or if we just wait until they’re able to come and visit themselves. They’ve been very responsive to any questions we’ve had at the town.”