Twenty-one days after declaring a climate emergency, the District of Squamish hired a consultant to help meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
The decision comes two weeks after the July 9 meeting where an update from staff said the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and implementation plan is “currently off the rails,” the District’s chief administrative officer, Linda Glenday, told council on July 23.
“A way to get it back on the rails is to skip the [request for proposal] process and sole source this contract,” Glenday continued.
To expedite the process, the District unanimously agreed with the recommendation from staff to hire the Whistler Sustainability Centre (WSC) as a consulting firm, without doing a competitive bid process.
Mayor Karen Elliott recused herself from the discussion, citing a conflict of interest since she sits on the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s board.
Glenday said part of the recommendation to expedite is because WCS and its partner, Community Energy Association, are curently available for the project.
WSC is a non-profit, with previous climate change planning projects in Whistler, Ucluelet and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s energy resilience task force.
According to the original plan to reach the emission reduction goals and implement a plan before the end of 2019, the District was to hire a sustainability position to lead climate change work, then contract the work to complete the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP). Now, they will begin work immediately.
The sustainability position, which was announced in January, is still a requirement of the plan.
“If we pivot and hire the contractor now, we certainly have the staff resources to handle management of the consultants while at the same time continuing to go and hire for this position,” Glenday said.
Glenday said $45,000 will be the upper limit for the WSC contract. Some of the money previously allocated for the sustainable staffing position can be used to accommodate the WSC contract, since the position was not hired and the wages for 2019 — $20,000 — were not spent.
Whistler Centre for Sustainability will conduct focus groups and create a small community task force by January 2020, Glenday said, followed by further public engagement early in 2020. The draft plan, which will include leading practices, creating a model and an action plan to implement, is targeted for the end of 2019.