Council ponders 6% cut in city’s greenhouse gas emissions

By David F. Rooney

Faced with a looming requirement to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, Council seems poised to set one now: six per cent across the board by 2020.

It doesn’t have the force of law yet. And the public will have a say on it during a 6:30-8 pm public meeting on Thursday, March 18, but it looks as though that will be one of the main goals of the City’s push to comply with provincial climate change legislation.

“We have to set a target,” City Planner John Guenther told City Council during a special Committee of the Whole (CoW) workshop Wednesday afternoon. “Six per cent is doable.”

The goal is one 11 that Guenther, other municipal officials and members of an environmental subcommittee have put together and are recommending be included in the Official Community Plan. The climate change targets must be incorporated into the OCP by May 31 as required by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act and amendments to the Local Government Act.

The goals, briefly, require the City to:

  1. cut GHGs by six per cent by 2020 from 2007 levels and develop a realistic and effective inventory of GHG impacts through an updated community inventory;
  2. include mitigation and adaptation goals and policies by 2015;
  3. establish indicators that can be measured against GHG regulations as well as incentives and direct actions that are in line with Community Vision statements;
  4. use tools such as LEED or Ecological Footprint to evaluate the sustainability of its strategic plan and long-term community needs;
  5. develop smart-growth regulations and policies that “reduce GHG impacts through land-use, zoning, transportation, parks and recreation, energy use and other elements of the OCP;”
  6. become a leader in achieving a balance between the environment, GHG reductions, economic growth and social progress;
  7. promote green buildings, infrastructure and district energy programs;
  8. establish partnerships with interested community groups, parties and other agencies to foster sustainability, measure impacts and formulate strategies;
  9. find novel ways to finance GHG reductions;
  10. develop incentive programs to promote GHG reductions; and
  11. develop a city-wide energy master plan based on a district energy program.

The City is already working to achieve several of those goals, most notably through its Unified Development Bylaw, the Transportation Master Plan, the recently unveiled Community Energy Emissions Program (see for a description of CEEP) and the upcoming Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Although Councillors did ask that parts of it be reworded, they by and large agreed with Guenther’s proposals.

“If governments at all levels don’t initiate these changes our citizens can’t move forward,” said Councillor Peter Frew, who chaired this meeting of the CoW.

Kip Wiley, who is a member of the environment subcommittee that worked on the proposals, agreed and urged Council to find ways to bring incorporate the Columbia Shuswap Regional District into the progress.

“It’s important that we bring the regional district into step on this,” he said. “They should be encouraged to adopt this. Our overall goal is to reduce GHGs. Costs, as important as they are now, will only increase if we don’t act now”