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The Corvallis Climate Action Advisory Board on Wednesday began working through a draft work plan that it hopes to present to the Corvallis City Council in July.

The board, which just began meeting in February, met for two hours and 5 minutes at the Madison Avenue Meeting Room. The meeting was scheduled for 90 minutes, and the group reached consensus that they would have to go for two hours at the next scheduled session on June 25.

In addition, the four subcommittees that are working on pieces of the board’s work, also must meet again before that June 25 session. The subgroups are working on funding, goals, outreach and coordination with other city plans.

That's a lot of heavy lifting for a new group, but it’s kind of to be expected since there was no previous body of work to build on. For example the transportation system plan update that is in progress is building off of data and decisions that have been in place for decades.

Three Crescent Valley High School students testified during the community comments portion of the meeting. The students, members of the Corvallis Youth Climate Action Now chapter, have been urging the board to include a climate recovery ordinance as part of their plan. Members of the group have testified at all four of the board’s meetings, but the board seems not inclined to include the ordinance.

“We can’t pass an ordinance,” said board member Linda Lovett. “We could make it one of our recommendations (to the City Council), but it’s not part of our current charge.”

Instead, the board seems likely to make updating the community’s greenhouse gas inventory and having clear emissions reduction targets to hit as its top goals. Also high on the priority list is convincing the city to establish a full-time climate coordinator.

Project manager Annette Mills of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition noted that Portland and Eugene each has multiple staff members working on climate.

Aravind Sriram, one of the students, meanwhile, said that Corvallis needs to set an example on climate action.

“If Corvallis can’t do this,” Sriram said, “what about Pendleton and Albany?”

Student Connor Robson agreed.

“We need to raise the bar,” he said. “There is a large group of knowledgeable, passionate people in the community ready to help.”

Dave Bella, a former Oregon State University engineering professor, also testified. Bella, former Mayor Charlie Vars and Court Smith, a former OSU anthropologist, have been working on alternative approaches to the city’s future and making appearances before a wide range of city boards and commissions.

Of particular concern to Bella and his group are actions the city is currently taking, particularly in transportation infrastructure and housing, that would essentially “lock in” a certain level of greenhouse gas emissions.

“You have to think differently. We can’t just pass the buck to these guys,” Bella said, pointing to the students.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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