Something really exciting happened last night. The City of Rossland passed a resolution that aims to transition the community to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. This makes Rossland the 10th municipality in Canada, and the fourth in the West Kootenays alongside the Village of Slocan, the City of Nelson, and the Regional District of Central Kootenay to be a bold leader.

I grew up in Guelph, Ontario which also joined the movement to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, last year. It feels pretty cool that the place I grew up in, and now my new home, are both committed to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. Before I moved to Nelson in 2017, I knew very little about this movement, and in the year and half that I’ve lived in Nelson this city-based renewable energy movement has boomed not only across the West Kootenays, but around Canada and the world. I’ve been thinking a lot about the shift in urgency in the past year and a half, and the sense of urgency at home in Ontario versus the sense of urgency in my new home in the West Kootenays.

Winters in Ontario are becoming far more inconsistent, and the freeze-warm-thaw cycle is becoming increasingly frustrating for the avid cross country skiers like those in my family. Other than this, I feel like the metropolitan bubble of southern Ontario makes the concept of climate change difficult to grasp. Warming may feel more appealing to city goers, and there are few forest fires encroaching on cities.

In contrast, I feel like the concept of climate change is very real here in the West Kootenays and British Columbia. Moving to the West Kootenays has been both an amazing and equally devastating experience because of this. I moved here in search of community and the beautiful outdoors. I spent last summer hiking and climbing, until August came along. British Columbia was smothered in wildfire smoke last August. I couldn’t see across the lake to Pulpit rock. Walking downtown Nelson I could see smoke in the streets a block away. Hiking was out of the question. I felt lethargic and my eyes, throat, and heart hurt.

August was a “wow” moment for me. “Wow” climate change is very real, and I’m seeing the impacts of it this very moment. To truly feel and see the impacts of climate change here in the West Kootenays made me fully realize the urgency of this global issue. I believe it is just as important to act here in British Columbia as it is to act in Ontario and around the world, but in the metropolitan bubble of my home in southern Ontario I had never felt the same sense of urgency before.

Feeling this sense of urgency here in the West Kootenays this past August made me feel incredibly sad, but also incredibly motivated. If I want to continue to play in the mountains, and if I want my family to continue to cross country ski in Ontario, then I have to do something, and do something now.

The City of Rossland committing to 100% Renewable Energy was also a “wow” moment for me. A huge thank you to the Mayor and Council of Rossland for being visionary leaders in the movement to phase out fossil fuels and transition to 100% renewable energy. And an even bigger thank you to the residents, many of whom are our amazing volunteers, and businesses of Rossland for standing up to say the time for 100% renewable energy is now. “Wow” can do this if we work together!

Natasha Edmunds is the Community Organizer at West Kootenay EcoSociety

If you live in Rossland and would like to support Rossland in the renewable energy transition, you can volunteer with the Sustainability Commission. Apply here.