Carbon neutrality looms ahead for the City

By David F. Rooney

The City is gearing up for the brave, new world of carbon-neutrality, as mandated by the provincial government, and that’s going to require a lot of brave, new green thinking on the part of City employees.

“We need to train people — teach them what being green really means,” Planning Director John Guenther told members of Council meeting as a Committee of the Whole last Tuesday.

The requirement to shift the way the City thinks about not just energy conservation but greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) climate change and all of their related issues has been apparent for some time. In the last few years the City has adopted an Anti-Idling Bylaw, worked with Downie Timber and Joe Kozek Sawmills to deactivate their beehive burners, built a co-generation plant, instituted a program to reduce wattage in street lights and encouraged discussion about climate change, trail building, green building and other things. It has also signed the province’s Climate Action Charter, which requires it to become carbon-neutral by 2012.

That’s just two years away and the first steps towards changing the way municipal officials think began with a discussion in the Committee and will continue with staff training and public discussions slated for November and December. It is anticipated that ideas will be developed through a series of open houses, including a Transportation Plan Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Community Centre from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., a Parks and Recreation Open House on Oct. 20 and a variety of community and other meetings between now and the end of the year.

Exactly how much carbon and other GHGs Revelstoke emits is a question that has yet to be answered. The last GHG emissions inventory was done in 2007 and Engineering and Pubic Works Director Brian Mallett “we need to complete a carbon-emissions assessment” in the near future. The assessment would allow the City to map the community’s “carbon footprint and give it some benchmarks to work with.

But can Revelstoke ever become truly “carbon neutral?” Mallett and Guenther did not sound optimistic about achieving true carbon neutrality.

“We’ll never get rid of it (carbon) entirely,” Mallett said. “Trying to have zero emissions by 2012, we’ll never meet that. But it’s not all doom and gloom for us. We’ve done an amazing amount of work already.”

Mayor Dave Raven agreed, saying the community “has been greening for several years.”

School District 19 is also gearing up for carbon neutrality.

Earl Woodhurst, district principal for operations and technology, told the Board of Trustees on Tuesday night that while “we’re waiting to see what that means… we really need staff to buy into this.” For now, the district needs them “to turn off the lights and turn down the thermostats at the end of each day,” he said.

You can find out more by contacting members of City Council or by going online to There you can also find a copy of the 2007 GHG assessment.