Salem's Climate Action Plan task force held its first workshop Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Salem residents recently surveyed preferred community improvement strategies like repairing sidewalks and planting more trees over more aggressive measures to combat climate change.

Their responses stand in contrast to priorities from a task force charged with creating a climate action plan for the city.

In March, Salem put out a survey which asked questions about planned objectives like increasing energy efficiency, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and expanding public infrastructure. It was meant to gauge which ideas are most important to the city, but did not ask respondents to rank ideas or offer information about their cost or how much they would actually reduce greenhouse gases.

In the community survey, 186 people responded with another 30 responses from task force members.

Kim Morrow with Verdis Group, the consultant hired to develop the plan, presented the results to the task force during a Wednesday meeting.

There are 40 task force members, including representatives from various Salem sectors ranging from business to transportation to social services.

They identified increasing bus service, connecting sidewalks, electric vehicles, improving walking paths to bus stops, communicating climate risks to underserved populations and improving energy efficiency in municipal buildings as priorities.

In contrast, people who responded to the March survey said repairing sidewalks, preserving green spaces, city trees, native plantings, parks and small-scale food producers were priorities when tackling climate change.

Least favorite concepts for both groups included prohibiting service to the Salem airport and implementing additional pricing on congested traffic in downtown.

Morrow said many task force members expressed concern about whether some of the proposed strategies would actually reduce greenhouse gases.

Morrow said across the board there wasn’t an interest in educational campaigns about reducing emissions or safe driving.

The task force is having another workshop on June 23 to discuss action planning before creating a draft plan. The plan is expected to be finalized by the fall. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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