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Port Moody joins planned class action lawsuit against major oil corporations

Port Moody's participation brings to seven communities which have agreed to join the class action
Environmental advocates rally outside Port Moody city hall earlier this year prior to making their pitch to council to join a class action lawsuit against big oil corporations.

Port Moody will participate in a class action lawsuit against big oil corporations to recover costs associated with climate change.

Council made the decision in a closed meeting April 23 that was released Thursday, May 23.

The resolution says the city’s participation is contingent on one local government acting as the suit’s lead plaintiff.

If it proceeds, Port Moody will set aside one dollar per resident to help cover legal costs.

In a statement, Mayor Meghan Lahti said the money — about $38,000 — will come from the city’s current insurance reserve and placed into another reserve dedicated for the lawsuit.

“It’s important that we recover costs so that we can reduce the financial burden placed on our residents,” Lahti said of the planned class action.

Mark Norbury, of the Laudato Si’ Circle, a local ministry focused on environmental advocacy, said if the suit is successful, participating communities stand to realize compensation that could cover about 30 per cent of their costs to mitigate the local impacts of climate change.

In September 2023, Port Moody council approved a plan to spend more than $11 million over the next 16 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 27 civic facilities. As well, the city is spending more than $3 million to install a new boardwalk across the eastern end of the Burrard Inlet after the original wooden structure was damaged by a very high king tide in December 2022.

According to Fiona Koza, a climate accountability strategist at West Coast Environmental Law, the firm that’s leading the lawsuit. Port Moody’s assent brings to seven the number of B.C. communities which have committed to work together on the legal action.

They represent a population of 340,000 and Koza said the firm will move forward once it has representation from at least 500,000 residents and one local government has agreed to be the lead plaintiff.

“it is exciting to see momentum building to make polluters pay,” Koza said, adding more than 11,000 British Columbians have signed a declaration calling upon local governments to demand accountability from big oil corporations.

Koza said she’s hopeful Port Moody’s decision might nudge Coquitlam to join as well.

“We can’t wait to see which B.C. municipalities will join next.”

In February, Lahti suggested the city might be open to taking on a lead role in the suit.

“We can’t underestimate the damage climate change has done,” she said.

Coun. Callan Morrison said it's time to act.

“We are in a climate crisis,” he said. “This is an emergency.”

The B.C. municipalities who’ve signed on to the proposed class action lawsuit are:

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