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
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.
Joe Gluska, council candidate
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gord Milsom, mayoral candidate
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
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.
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.
Rusty Ensign, council candidate
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gordon Wiebe, council candidate
I don’t believe the city is doing enough to deal with climate change at the municipal level.
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
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
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.