West Kelowna candidates talk climate change

Each week we ask your candidates a question, here are their answers



Every week, during the run-up to the Oct. 20 election, the Capital News will ask West Kelowna candidates a question about a local issue. This week’s question is: 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?

Jayson Zilkie, council candidate

Our city can always do better when it comes to protecting our environment and reducing emissions. There needs to be a strong support from both provincial and federal government to ensure that there is ample education and financial implications to reduce emissions.

There are also other opportunities to incentivise businesses to reduce carbon emissions, including use of public transportation, and bike to work weeks, alternate forms of energy, and enhanced credits for reduction of emissions.

Our city should always be looking for ways to reduce emissions, and this should be supported by our provincial and federal government. We should also be empowered to work closely with large business to make sure they are following guidelines. We can be a leader in this industry if we are well informed and are strong communicators towards business that are high emission producers.

Joe Gluska, council candidate

Climate change is very complex as all know. Currently, carbon dioxide has no boundaries and many countries produce more CO2 than Canada. Other than supporting the policies and programs in place, placing more taxes and higher prices on residents of West Kelowna will not reduce the global impact of China or India, to name two massive CO2 producing countries. Yet where possible examining green technology and implementing its use in West Kelowna, where not financially burdensome to residents makes sense. Council needs to work smarter and not jump on to a bandwagon, because it is the flavour of the month.

Carol Zanon, council candidate

Climate change has to be a consideration in almost every city project. Why? because the province says so. It has mandated goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases with target dates, repeated in our Official Community Plan and other documents. Before we ask if it is enough, it would be reasonable to look at what the city is doing.

High level planning sets the stage for efficient use of energy. West Kelowna is one of 187 signatories to the Climate Action Charter. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an innate part of our planning, our healthy economic development, and the improved livability of our city.

Some of the climate action projects the city has done include the Silver LEED- certified RCMP detachment (our first city building), upgrades to Boucherie Road, Gellatly Road, Brown Road and Westlake Road. These projects include cycling lanes, bus pullouts, LED lighting, sidewalks and environmentally-friendly trees. There is an electric vehicle fast-charging station on Brown Road, new lighting for our athletic fields and an LED streetlight conversion pilot project underway.

So what about the future? The city already uses geothermal and solar energy in some of its operations. There will be opportunities to use these resources and new technologies in future capital projects.

The proposed second B.C. transmission line will provide secure energy efficiency. The Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant will provide efficient water management and quality control processes that will reduce greenhouse gases emissions and protect the environment.

Rosalind Neis, council candidate

I have seen the effects of global warming while diving in the Caribbean and the coral is all but dead — we need to be leaders and provide financial incentives for our citizens so they can be part of the solution without impacting their personal finances dramatically.

We all need to do more in light of this recent report – and do it now – from a municipal perspective, we can do several things. 1. ensure we are following section 9.36 of the B.C. building code on building energy efficiency for all new construction 2. when replacing city vehicle fleet we replace with electric vehicles 3. ensure that all city owner buildings are energy efficient (lighting choices, heating, solar) 4. Pass a local bylaw banning single-use plastics and 5. offer information sessions and even incentives for local citizens to do small things like use clothes lines instead of dryers, provide free bus rider days, offer builders offsets for xeriscaping projects, promote recycled art competitions.

I would love to spearhead these and other ideas to make a difference – the youth in our and all communities will be the ones paying the price for a dead planet if we don’t start working together – we should be involving youth and listening to their ideas.

Jerome Chung, council candidate

I believe that we did our best to do what is required to keep our city clean and to reduce pollutions as much as possible within the guidelines of the bylaws. As far as the global climate change is concern, we have to ask how much have we (the Okanagan cities) contributed to the climate change? Almost zero or negligible when compared to the whole population of the world. And yet we have governments that trump up all these carbon taxes to fill in their coffers.

The real cause of climate changes, I believe is caused by the wars that use chemical weapons of mass destruction to the planet earth. Are our provincial and federal governments promoting clean energy for utitlies & transportation use? Is U.N. doing a good job in preventing the use of weapons of mass destructions? If you have seen what mankind has done in the last two world wars and the ongoing of wars around the world, you would agreed with me that they are the biggest cause of climate change.

As far as our duties at the municipal level, we have done our part and in my opinion, the carbon taxes are just tax grab.

Gord Milsom, mayoral candidate

Climate change is a regional, provincial, national, and global issue. Given the ubiquity of climate change, improved energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies implemented by the City of West Kelowna may appear to have little impact in the near term. However, action taken today by the City of West Kelowna and by other BC municipalities in support of the Provincial Climate Action Charter, will hopefully have a positive influence on climate change in the future.

The City of West Kelowna can continue to engage building industry stakeholders in the best ways to implement the new Energy Step Code initiative recently introduced by the Provincial Government. We can also help achieve lower green house gas emissions if we can convince the Ministry of Transportation to improve the flow of traffic on Highway 97 by replacing traffic lights with interchanges where appropriate, thus reducing the negative environmental impact of idling vehicles while stopped at traffic lights.

While global climate change remains a reality, we need to do what we can to protect our residents and their property from the impacts of climate change. Climate change appears to be creating more heat, drought, lightning, excessive rainfalls, and rapid snowmelts. Such natural occurrences can contribute to wildfires and/or flooding. To protect our residents and their properties from wildfires, we can request support from the Province to clear debris on the ground of the forests bordering our municipality, consider prescribed burns, and continue to introduce the FireSmart program to our residents. To protect our residents from flooding, we can continue to clear culverts, drainage ditches, creeks, and provide information to residents as to ways to protect properties located near creeks and the lakeshore and on floodplains.

Rick de Jong, council candidate

Fires, floods and droughts; the ramifications of climate change are impacting us locally and we are responding. The City of West Kelowna is a signatory of the Climate Action Charter and as such is tracking our greenhouse gas emissions. We are working towards reducing our carbon foot print both corporately and across the community through various climate action initiatives.

West Kelowna is embracing green technologies and practices wherever possible such as implementing a corporate anti-idling policy for city vehicles and supporting a public electric vehicle charging station in partnership with BC Hydro. The Province of British Columbia requires local governments to submit annual reports indicating their actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. West Kelowna’s 2017 Climate Actions Report is available through the City’s website portal and is an in-depth, 42 page account of the various city initiatives and goals. The City of West Kelowna is doing a lot to deal with climate change.

Jason Friesen, council candidate

The city has been working on some of the low lying fruit with regard to environmental sustainability. Actions such as improving the efficiency of HVAC systems in city run facilities, upgrading street, office and facility lighting to LED lighting as well as planning and added zoning for a greater amount of higher density housing have been put in place.

I believe that there are some other areas that we can look at to further reduce our impact on the environment. Not only do we need to “plan” for higher density housing, we need to be proactive in attracting this type of development. We need to explore the transportation issues that we are faced with on a daily basis.

A plan to have all city owned vehicles eventually be electric or hybrid where possible. Although not our jurisdiction, we need to go back to the provincial government and re-engage them on the interchanges at Hudson and Boucherie Roads, while continuing to explore options through the downtown core, that will reduce idling times and reduce GHG emissions. I also believe that we should also explore the requirement to have new construction meet higher levels of efficiency than are required by the B.C. Building code. This could include having all new construction ready to adapt solar power, increased insulation, higher levels of air-tightness, etc.

We also need to ensure that we are providing our residents with adequate services, especially in the recreational and retail sectors, so that we can reduce the amount of travel across the lake. I have also been in cities that have options to not only recycle cardboard and some plastics, but also glass and food waste. I believe it would be prudent to explore this option, and if financially feasible to provide this additional service.

Rusty Ensign, council candidate

The City of West Kelowna recently received an award for green house gas reduction. So we need to continue what we are doing. That said awareness is a key factor. We must be aware of climate change and do whatever we can, whenever we can, to address the issue. One thing we can do is utilize the heat recovery unit and geothermal field at Royal Lepage Place for its original intended design.

Currently the heat recovery unit heats Royal Lepage Arena. The capital costs of this were paid off in seven years which was four years ago. No natural gas has been used to heat RLP for a decade. The system was designed to have the capacity to heat Jim Lind Arena, City Hall and possibly Mt Boucherie Secondary. A review should be done of the geothermal system and any building that can be added on to the existing geothermal heat recovery system should be added on to it.

Doug Findlater, council candidate

The City of West Kelowna has signed onto the Provincial Climate Action Charter and has received recognition for doing so. WK’s OCP reflects planning to stop urban sprawl by growing by infill and upward. CWK provides alternative transportation modes on all new roads (Westlake, Gellatly, Brown, Boucherie) such as cycling, walking and transit infrastructure. The City is gradually converting all street and building lighting and heating to more energy efficient modes. The City is hosting an Electric Vehicle charging station near Lions Hall. The city with assistance from Provincial and Federal Governments has built two RapidBus Exchanges and expanded service. New buildings such as the RCMP Station are built to high energy efficient LEED standards. The City can do more as we build new infrastructure and replace old infrastructure as we can afford to undertake major capital projects.

Mary Mandarino, mayoral candidate

Global Warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system. This rise in temperature has an effect on climate change.

Scientists have determined emissions and accelerated Arctic Warming have led to runaway global warming.

Communities can provide the changes necessary by reducing pollutants in our neighbourdhoods, protection of our waterways, and ecosystems.

A local community can reduce the number of vehicles on municipal roads by providing viable alternatives. This would include community development of neighbourhoods that includes recreation facilities, neighbourhood food stores, pre-school and schools, and entertainment opportunities, a publicly accessible affordable transportation system.

West Kelowna is already working in this direction as neighbourhoods are being developed with amenities included.

Lakeview Heights Development on Anders Road is providing Live, Work, and Play to potential businesses and residents.

While there is still a lot of room for improvement the City of West Kelowna is working to make neighbourhood development projects more Live, Work, and Play communities.

However, it requires all citizens as well as developers to be involved in protecting our climate and making our atmosphere safer by controlling the pollutants that are contributing to climate change.

Bryden Winsby, council candidate

The effects of climate change are taken very seriously by the City of West Kelowna and it’s becoming hard not to believe the flooding and wildfires endured by the community in recent years has been caused by those effects. The city continues to work on numerous Climate Action initiatives on its own and in partnership with other governments and organizations. I will continue to support and encourage expansion of these efforts.

West Kelowna’s website has a page devoted specifically to the subject https://www.westkelownacity.ca/en/our-community/climate-action.aspx

It points out that the city will also continue to invest millions of dollars in infrastructure that will aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to Climate Change, including building efficiencies, cycling lanes, sidewalks, transit infrastructure and water and wastewater projects.

Climate Action projects in recent years include:

• Silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for the RCMP building.

Upgrades to Westlake, Brown, Gellatly and Boucherie roads with such features as cycling lanes, bus bays, street trees and irrigated landscaping.

• LED streetlight conversion pilot project.

• Electric vehicle fast charging station on Brown Road.

• Boucherie Road Wine Trail Upgrade Phase II, including 2.8 kilometres of cycling lanes and sidewalks, roundabouts, LED street lighting, boulevard trees and transit pullouts.

There is a link on the web page to a document that provides considerable detail on what was done in 2017 alone.

Winston Wammer, council candidate

I’m not aware of any programs that have been instituted to decrease climate change so there is always more that can be done. When the city upgrades their vehicles and machinery they could explore the use of alternate fuel engines, they could also get maximum usage with minimum operating time. All new and replaced lighting could be converted to low energy lighting. Most new installations are low energy consumption lighting. Reducing workplace energy use for heating and cooling could be managed with thermostats that automatically provide control. These are just a few of the operational efforts that can be employed.

When it comes to effects of climate change much more needs to be done for the preservation and safety of property. The city must collaborate with the Federal and Provincial, Regional and other municipal governments to reduce the threat of flooding and fires.

Innovative ideas such as upstream Catch basins or reservoirs that hold back flood waters that can be released during drought is one idea. Tiering of forested upland areas may be another way to prevent flash runoff. Revegetating forested lands to reduce quick thaw runoff may also work. Experts in this field should be able to advise of ways that will hold back the runoff process.

When it comes to fire, building boundaries can be established and fire guard areas work to prevent the advancement of forest fires. A use of fire retardant before forest fires start might reduce the number of close in fires. Immediate response to forest fires should be a top priority and the call for fire suppression should be local not okay from Victoria.

Preventative measures to reduce the effects of flood and fire should be a priority and should be treated as such by all levels of government.

Engaging experts to resolve these issues and using best practice to inform decisions that produce positive outcomes should always be part of the process.

Gordon Wiebe, council candidate

I don’t believe the city is doing enough to deal with climate change at the municipal level.

Over the last couple of years, West Kelowna and the Central Okanagan have had to deal with:

Each of these events places greater stress on ageing and non-existent infrastructure.

Flash floods strain our drainage networks. The floods erode the sides of our roads and weaken the asphalt. Rising lake levels swamp lakefront amenities and infrastructure. As well, they divert staff attention from normal activities.

Longer forest fire seasons require greater diligence and preparation. Our ability to combat each situation demands that crews have access to reliable power to repair groundwork, prevent property damage or even the loss of life.

The City can pursue a more aggressive policy when dealing with the infrastructure deficit by:

1) Upgrading roads, sewers and drainage.

2) Thinking like the Dutch when tackling flood issues.

3) Sanctioning controlled burns during off season. Clearing underbrush and fuel from nearby forests.

4) Providing incentives to homeowners for autonomous power production via solar panels, wind power and generators. That way alternative power sources are available if the Hydro line ever goes down during one of the anticipated crises.

Philip Akins, council candidate

As a signatory to the B.C. Climate Action Charter, West Kelowna has committed to becoming carbon neutral in its corporate emissions and taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions city wide.

I strongly support these commitments, in part, because many of the steps we can take to help mitigate and adapt to climate change are well-aligned with the development of a healthy, prosperous and liveable city. Given how much West Kelowna has had on its plate since incorporation just 11 years ago I think we have made a good start.

We have acknowledged that we have a role to play as a municipality in addressing this global issue, and we have begun incorporating climate change considerations into how we assess our investment and planning decisions. Looking forward, one of the biggest impacts we can have on reducing emissions at the municipal level is through land use planning and transportation infrastructure. By encouraging density in specific areas and enhancing the amenities available within neighbourhoods, for example, we will improve efficiencies, reduce travel distances, and make alternatives to driving more feasible within and between neighbourhoods.

Other measures I would advocate for include giving preference to development proposals that prioritize energy efficiency and waste reduction in their design; supporting regional efforts to build a sustainable transportation network in the valley; and making sure we preserve the integrity of natural resources in West Kelowna (such as intact streams) that provide resilience to the impacts of climate change (such as increased flooding).

Stephen Johnston, council candidate

The city of West Kelowna has a Climate Action report that highlights local climate actions and benefits as well as the funding source for those projects. Many of the climate action measures are typical, such as switching to LED lights, but some are much more important, flood remediation and the creation of a new water treatment plant.

I believe that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment and to take care of the many wonderful natural resources we enjoy here. If the trend is to hold business and development to climate action measures then I believe we should be leaders in this arena. One thing I would like to see us do is explore the creation of a broad range of affordable housing options for our community.

There are sustainable building practices and mixed-use building models that favour a more environmentally friendly construction process and also offer a better quality of life for residents and more vitality for businesses. With the cost of living rising like it is, we must find more effective ways to handle long-term housing and transportation needs. There are many innovative measures that can be taken to help address climate change and we should look to other municipalities within our country for inspiration.