This Saturday is municipal election day in BC. If you need one more reason to get out and vote, consider the power our municipal governments have to change our carbon emissions.
With the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report making it clear that we only have a dozen short years to make drastic cuts to our carbon emissions to avoid overheating our planet, we need a massive effort to transform our infrastructure and economy. Our cities and towns have the power to make real changes to our transportation systems, including expanding public transit, encouraging biking and planning for walkable cities. They can adopt stronger building codes that will save enormous amounts of energy over the long lifetimes of our homes and businesses. They can reduce methane emissions from our waste streams, reduce their own carbon emissions and so much more.
So please get out and vote this Saturday—and vote for candidates who will work to reduce our carbon emissions.
We asked candidates in some key cities in the East Kootenay what they would do, if elected, to reduce carbon emissions. In this busy election season, we didn’t get as many responses as we’d hoped, but you’ll find the responses we did receive below for Kimberley, Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood, Creston and Invermere.
“Kimberley signed on to the Climate Action Charter in 2007 and I supported it. Over the following years the City did an audit on their buildings and did many changes to reduce carbons emissions. Can the city do more, I say yes.They can look at their fleet and if replacing any,look at buying smaller vehicles. They can continue to look at their buildings to see if more changes can be made i.e.solar panels at the aquatic centre. Lastly council can ask the public to see what ideas they may have.”
“The City of Kimberley now assesses each project for carbon reduction opportunities. For example, LED lighting in the Civic Center and other infrastructure when replacement is necessary; more than 50 projects have signed on to the City’s Energy Efficient Building Incentive Program over last 3 years; we are installing three charging stations, have done an energy retrofit at Aquatic, and are making transit service upgrades.In 2012 Council created a reserve for carbon credits that accumulates at about $30K per year. This fund is used for projects that positively impact our carbon footprint. In 2018, the purchase of a hybrid vehicle for the bylaw officer is budgeted from this fund – retiring a tired old van that is not efficient at all. The approach we are taking is one of incremental improvement. I am proud of our efforts these last few years and look forward to further improvements as we move forward.”
Candidates for Council
“I would continue to promote the energy efficient building program, the expansion of the commuter bus service to Cranbrook and the use of zoning and development regulations to reduce sprawl and increase density. I would continue the process of efficiency improvements in City operations through many small measures that include switching to LED lighting in streetlights, purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles where appropriate and upgrading heating systems in City buildings. We are have just approved a solar powered electrical vehicle charging station downtown and I will look for opportunities to build more in the future. We will continue to use selective thinning in forested areas around town to mitigate fire risk in a way that allows the more mature trees to continue to sequester carbon. I would sell the Sunmine to Teck, which has the wherewithal to expand it and produce more low carbon electricity for the hydro grid.”
“I love astronomy. I love looking up at the stars when the sky is clear and just enjoying the beauty of the universe. I believe we need to do things to take care of the third rock from the sun. While we are a small town, I believe there are things we can do. Education is important. I visit footprintcalculator.org to learn how many planet earth’s we’d need if everyone lived like me, or you. Brings to the forefront the finite resources we have. Next we need to prepare for a post-oil life, so I believe our city can do and encourage the following: Develop biking and walking paths; Become an idle-free area; Encourage more regular buses between Kimberley and Cranbrook; Recycling pick up and encourage composting”
1. Develop incentives for business and homeowners to invest in solar upgrades to reduce reliance on older energy systems; 2. Continue to push for an expansion of the SunMine, regardless of the results of the referendum; 3. Charging stations. This is already in the works but an expansion may be warranted if the program is successful. Electric car users always plan ahead when making extended trips, so if Kimberley becomes a charging hub, we can bring more environmentally conscious folks into town to spend money at our business, putting more money in the local economy; 4. Incorporate proper bike lanes and sidewalks into upcoming infrastructure projects to encourage less driving. Less pollution and a healthier population; 5. LED lighting where possible; 6. Develop a composting program throughout the city which should help to decrease methane production at our regional landfills; and 7. Continue to encourage green building practices through building permits.”
“Kimberley is a small town with few industrial emissions — which are the main problem. A vehicle idling bylaw needs to be put in place. There is NOTHING now. We must do everything we can to preserve food. Food should not end up in the landfills as it produces methane gas. It needs to be circulated and used (even after expiration date) or re-purposed as animal feed or composted. Keep up the excellent work! Even the small effort we all put out is important to preserve our planet. The capitalist freaks just don’t get it. What good is money if we don’t preserve livability on our planet?”
“Enforce our idle free town. Require new homes to have a garage with their building plans so that the start up time for vehicles would be less in the winter. Support and make Kimberley more user friendly for electric vehicles. Increase the awareness regarding carbon emissions. Have public sessions, include information on the City of Kimberley’s newsletter, educate our youth. Introduce “Walk and Bike” around town campaign with incentives and goals. Have incentives and goals for taking transit instead of driving.”
“Personally, at home we have replaced most lighting to optimum energy efficiency, blow-in additional attic and wall insulation, new roof and siding, new efficiency windows, new high efficiency furnace, new efficiency vehicles, to consider hybrid next recycle, driving less, driving efficiently. Walking and biking more. Shovelled our walks and driveways last winter. Fitness program!
As Trustee over two terms (7 years) car-pooled to distant board meetings, supported and voted for all energy efficiency and anti-pollution initiatives, whether for facilities or vehicles, including solar demonstration projects. Advocating for redevelopment of Selkirk Secondary which the least efficient of the three secondary schools in Rocky Mountain SD6.
As City Councillor, I will be interested to learn the details and effectiveness of past and outstanding energy efficiency initiatives, and new opportunities yet to address in Kimberley. The condition of our water, sewer, gas, hydro and communications infrastructure and related risks within Kimberley are of serious interest and concern.”
Candidates for Council
Melodie B. Hull
“I believe in climate change. As City Councillor I’d take these steps and initiatives.
Get youth out of cars and on to buses. Public Transit is the future and is proven to reduce carbon footprints. Create an education program for them to make it relevant. I’ll search for incentive programs to retrofit homes and businesses to ensure energy efficiency, including use of solar and wind power. I’ll ensure new builds must have this. I will provide oversight to any industry within out city or nearby that affects our city’s air quality to ensure toxic fumes are not spewed into the atmosphere. I am in favour of agricultural development that provides our city and region food without having to truck it in or use an abundance of pesticides and fertilizers. This includes agriculture-under-glass. I’ll stop any deforestation that comes with development and ensure bylaws and enforcement are in place.”
“To reduce carbon emissions for the city of Cranbrook, I will: Continue to support centralized development. Locating the proposed indoor sports facility, at Balment Park versus Moir Park decreases the need for the majority of citizens to drive or at least decreases the driving distance and reduces carbon emissions; Continue supporting multi-family housing. This reduces carbon emissions per household and if located centrally and/or on existing public transit routes can reduce the need to drive or evenown a car; Support improving the energy efficiency of city buildings, decreasing carbon emissions and saving money; Support planting trees along municipal roadways, improving the urban environment for citizens, improving aesthetics and absorbing carbon. And finally, I will request that staff include an assessment of carbon emissions with every municipal decision brought to Council. Councillors will then be more fully aware of the environmental impact of their decisions.”
Harold Randell Tapp
“Scientists globally agree that we are at a crisis point and must reduce our carbon emissions. Cranbrook can lead by example by improving infrastructure, providing education, offering incentives, and enhancing bylaws to help address the problem.Among the many initiatives available for offsetting climate change, I will advocate for: Bylaws to encourage geothermal, wind, solar and electric sources of energy over natural gas; Energy smart retrofits of buildings; Solar panels on more public building; Improving public transportation, centralizing our amenities and encouraging walking, cycling and carpooling to reduce vehicle use; Making existing recycling programs easier to use and introducing new services such as a re-use it centre for building materials;Encouraging local, organic food consumption.Many green options deemed insignificant or impractical earlier have become feasible today, and new, innovative solutions should always be considered however small. I will be pleased to help in this important work.”
“I don’t have a real plan for reducing emissions in Cranbrook. It is something that is constantly on my mind though.
On a couple occasions I got The City to look into solar projects. One was for the roof of Western Financial Place. Norma and myself worked on this. The second one was a community style solar farm similar to Nelson’s. Where the people or businesses who invest in the project get a credit towards their hydro bill.
I’ve also inquired about starting a transit committee. Our transit system in under-utilized, and we are not accessing available marketing dollars to increase ridership. I think we need to get kids on busses as much as possible. Have them grow up knowing how to use it. Right now I feel like a lot of Cranbrook kids and residents don’t even know how to use our bus system.”
Phil Iddon for council
“The City of Fernie has committed to be carbon neutral in all its operations. We have done an energy retrofit to the pool, that diverts monies saved, for heating costs, to an energy efficiency reserve that has, so far, been used retrofit most City facilities lighting systems to become more efficient. The City is part of the energy highway and through grants has installed a charging station on City Hall land to help promote electric transportation. The City has several large facility replacements in the near future, that will need to use the most efficient technology available to lessen impacts. We will need to continue investing in cycling infrastructure and also support regional transit initiatives and the Ski Hill Shuttle service.”
Troy Nixon for council
“I think that many of us in Fernie are mitigating climate change and our carbon footprint either knowingly or subconsciously. We ride our townies which reduces automobile trips, we recycle everything and anything we can.
As for the City of Fernie we could do things very similar. We could have ‘bike to work weeks every month’ instead of Bike to Work Week. As well, Fernie could emulate Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia with their incredible story of becoming the ‘solarest’ city in Canada.
We could also light up our city using LED lights (LED bulbs create the least at only 451lbs of CO2 per year versus 4500lbs/year for incandescent lights).
Lastly, communication and education. Do people know how to reduce or recycle properly? Do we understand that buying that $10 LED light bulb versus the $3 one will create 90% less greenhouse gas emissions and last 50,000hrs?”
“Yes, climate change is a HUGE problem in my mind. I believe that the battle against climate change needs to start with each of us as individuals. Lead by example, and hopefully your neighbours will follow suit. I will admit that this is a very idealistic approach, but I truly believe that we are all accountable for our own carbon footprint.
So what can I do if elected to help reduce carbon emissions in Fernie? I can start by making climate change apart of the discussion in all relevant decisions moving forward. We must find ways to decrease our carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Fernie, with each decision we are faced with on council. Let’s keep the approach simple, and I believe we will get results.”
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Harold Baytaluke for council
“A difficult question considering our community makes a comfortable living from carbon based coal mining. We in the community of Sparwood are the closest and most affected by the ongoing results of coal mining and getting progressively worse as it continues. Our local environmental office in Cranbrook is not effective at all in dealing with concerns put to them by local residents. We aren’t against the resource extraction but expect it to be done responsibly; environmentally. The joint committee established by the local government has no integrity in my opinion and will not give the local operations the necessary scrutiny required to make the provincial government act to clean things up. If successful, i can only promise to represent the concerned citizen voices open and persistently every opportunity i get at open meetings.”
Debbie L. Cherkas for council
“Climate Change is real and is an issue that all citizens and communities need to work on. Creston currently has 2 EV charging locations operating. Creston has a wood stove upgrade program in place, which I agree should continue. I will try to encourage the use of solar power, geothermal in the building of homes and apartments. As forestry is a major industry in Creston area I would support eco friendly forestry initiatives. No one likes to pay taxes but the proposed carbon tax would provide revenue for programs to address climate change and hopefully encourage positive changes in the behavior and activities of our citizens. We must reduce the burning of fossil fuels.”
Allen Miller for mayor
“To reduce carbon emissions with in the Invermere area we have started using solar panels on many projects in the district. Water pipes turbines to be put in place when replacing infrastructure ( picture insert ). The one new problem we have is the amount of water craft running around , they have been using are wet lands for their play grounds. More provincial and federal help to police this issue. Make new legislation on buoy placements ,the less boats anchored on the water the less oil slicks around .this would help slow down erosion ,weed cut up that is rotting on the beaches that turns into toxic gas. Our green spaces are a natural wounder and we need to keep these areas clean and clear. They can last a millennium or be gone in a minute.”