Candidates answer the question: Is the city doing enough, and what more needs to be done?
In light of the most recent UN report on climate changethe Capital News asked Kelowna civic election candidates: Is the city doing enough to deal with climate change at the municipal level and what more do you think the city should do to address the issue locally?”
Kelowna mayoral candidate answers:
Kelowna has suffered deeply from the impacts of climate change, with the increasing intensity of fires and floods that have cost homeowners, businesses and our local economy millions of dollars. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to take strong action to reduce Kelowna’s emissions. Through extensive community consultation during the Imagine Kelowna process and through the recent updating of Kelowna’s Community Climate Action Plan, the city has set realistic and pragmatic short-term goals and ambitious long-term targets, to put Kelowna on a low carbon path that will slow absolute emissions growth, four per cent below 2007 levels by 2023 (28 per cent per capita), 25 per cent by 2033 (50per cent per capita) and 80 per cent by 2050 (90per cent per capita). It is critical that the city stays the course on this plan to ensure a high quality of life in our community for future generations.
No. The biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Kelowna comes from vehicles. Investing in bike lanes, sidewalks and transit is nice but what about the other 85 per cent of residents who rely on vehicles to commute? Our city transportation network needs serious investment—immediately. We need to synchronize traffic lights along Highway 97 so that cars are not stopping and starting all the time, which causes pollution. Mission-area residents who drive the “Lakeshore crawl” are still waiting for the south perimeter road to be built. Once this road is constructed, the Frost and Gordon Road shopping centre will open, allowing residents to walk or drive a short distance to stores, thus reducing GHG’s. The Highway 33 Extension / North End Connector would help to reduce gridlock at Spall and Enterprise, which would also reduce GHG’s.
The city, I feel, could do more to help with the issue of climate change, but recognize Kelowna, and indeed Canada, is a small fraction of the world’s problem, and we have one of the largest carbon sinks in the world, our vast forests and ecosystem which helps remove carbon from the atmosphere. Kelowna can help with making our transportation infrastructure more efficient and improving public transit. Green spaces are also a vital component to the inner-city. Utilizing new technology with our waste products, landfill practices, and re-cycling are also areas where we improve.
Kelowna councillor candidate answers:
The City of Kelowna adopted the Corporate Energy and GHG Emission Plan this year which supports the policies of the Official Community Plan. This plan is well balanced with environmental protection, economic growth and development. Climate change will continue to play havoc on our ecosystems as we have seen in recent years with extreme weather conditions. In saying this, the city does need energy in order to operate and maintain a wide variety of equipment and services.
I think Kelowna is off to a good start. As a city, there is only so much you can do. That being said it could be improved. Working with the province, install left-turn signals at all intersections on Harvey Avenue 24/7. Arrows at Guisachan and Gordon would be another example where keeping the flow of traffic could cut down on emissions.
Kelowna has demonstrated significant commitment to this area through the council endorsed 2018 Climate Action Plan and the Corporate Energy and GHG Emissions Plan. These documents currently direct the work of staff. In the past four years we have focused our energies on developing and encouraging efficient compact communities through urban densification, support of alternate transportation opportunities, LED Street Light Conversion and retrofitting city owned facilities to name a few. To ensure we continue in this positive direction, the 2040 OCP update, Transportation Master Plan and Energy Step Code requirements must all align with and support the goals of the Climate Action Plan. This work is currently underway but most importantly will require the strong support of the next council.
Kelowna has potential to be very accessible by simply adding or improving bike lanes and re-evaluating our transit system. The goal of this is to lower the amount of people needing to drive their vehicles. I have also spoken with residents in wheelchairs and scooters who have told me that our sidewalks have not been built correctly and in many areas and are difficult to maneuver.
The UN IPCC report identifies four global systems that must change and then states people should “buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced seasonal food—and throw less of it away.
• Drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances
• Take trains and buses instead of planes
• Use videoconferencing instead of business travel
• Use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
• Insulate homes
• Demand low carbon in every consumer product.
Amarjit Singh Lalli
I am not familiar with the policies that the city has put forward. The city’s role is to make sure that we encourage building energy efficient homes and buildings, also reduce packing waste so it does not end up in the landfill or the lake and streams. The city needs a transit system that is efficient and effective.
I will push for including the B.C. STEP Code now to reduce emissions and homeowner energy costs by 40 per cent, a resident U-Pass (ComPASS) now to triple transit ridership and reduce congestion, a plan for valley e-rail, which would takes 30 per cent of cars off the road and cost less than a new highway. Come out to an Oct 18 meeting at 3:30 p.m. at the Innovation Centre for more information.
I would advocate for the following:
• Implement restrictions on single-use plastics and styrofoam products • Development of great gathering centres like parks and plazas where people can meet and connect with others. • Healthy neighbourhoods in urban centres with varied inventory styles to support varying income levels to limit urban sprawl and CO2 emissions. • Advocate for incentives from senior governments and utility companies to update old homes to the new BC Energy Step code. • GPS tracking of buses and increased frequency on rapid routes to increase ridership. • Preserving mature trees when property is under re-development.
The city is on the right path, but certainly more can be done. The City of Kelowna was an early user and supporter of the OGO car share program (now Modo), helping to establish this option for residents and communities. Many of the vehicles in this fleet are now electric or hybrid models. This has been a successful program. The city also offers a modest incentive for those who have electric vehicles or high-efficiency hybrids.
At a grassroots level, I support promotion of day-to-day green-friendly practices to reduce our individual carbon footprints, e.g. taking pubic transit, car share/carpooling, following the 3Rs (reduce, re-use, recycle), reducing water consumption, supporting local agricultural (e.g. Buy BC), and being environmentally conscientious consumers. In order to be good stewards of our environment for future generations, we must put forth our best efforts in reducing our carbon foot print and making environmental sustainability a priority.
How about xeriscape neighbourhoods in the future for development incentives? Don’t remove the parking incentives for people who drive electric vehicles simply because they’re becoming more available. I support the current rate of incremental steps for energy-efficiency requirements leading to net-zero by 2032. Lets be practical, proactive and smart.
Our local government can put pressure on our provincial and federal governments to work with these industries to be more globally respectful to our environment. Locally, we can look at new construction using green technology. We can look to ourselves when we use our vehicles and by purchasing local items before we buy imported goods.
It will always be important for our local government to look at ways to deal with climate change as we all are contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
I think the city is on the right track in developing urban centres such as City Centre, South Pandosy, Rutland, and Midtown.
Developing urban centres reduces the cost of infrastructure upgrades and reduces urban sprawl, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road. I believe the city should gradually move towards the use electric fleet vehicles. The city should continue to lobby for provincial and federal grants to improve the energy efficiency in the city’s older homes and should also support FortisBC to continue their work to upgrade aging appliances and lighting in homes and businesses.
Everyone in the community, along with major corporations like the city, should continue leading the way they have for many years. I think leadership from the federal and provincial levels, with incentives for moving to become greener, is also crucial as it will require support from higher levels of government to address the larger issues.
United Nations Scientific evidence abounds that there is negative climate change.
Similarly, we also have a lot of deniers. The federal government has a solid base of support for a carbon tax, though with clear pockets of opposition. Unless I am incorrect, the BC NDP government supports the carbon tax. What City of Kelowna can do, I am not sure.
No we are not doing enough but I am proud of the new climate action plan that the city recently updated. I believe that building up not out is one of the top three steps we need to focus on to be environmentally responsible. The other thing I believe we need to do is create an electric car strategy.
The city has been actively working toward reducing CO2 levels for many years. Staff are upgrading buildings to be more energy efficient and we are changing the transportation model to use more energy efficient vehicles. We are creating multi-modal corridors for bikes and pedestrian use. The city just replaced all its street lights with LED lights to reduce energy consumption.
The city is not doing nearly enough. In fact, it is exacerbating a bad situation with their lack of a plan to get people out of their cars and onto a reliable public transportation system.
I will work tirelessly to research, cost and implement a transportation plan that will relieve gridlock and make the densification of the city something we can live with and still maintain mobility in this beautiful city.
We have the 97 corridor and we must use far more effectively if we are to reduce the pressure on the cross streets and residential roads.
(Responses not received from mayoral candidate Bobby Kennedy and councillor candidates Charlie Hodge and Kevin Bond.)