Kelowna council to take on car culture

“Municipalities have the ability to influence and lead GHG reductions …”

Car culture will be the focus of Kelowna city council today when Community Climate Action Plan is up for discussion.

Record levels of spring precipitation led to historic flooding of Okanagan Lake, Mission Creek and Mill Creek, affected some 3,200 residents in the community and that was followed by one of the hottest and driest July and August on record, which led to a devastating wildfire season and the community blanketed in smoke, reads the report to council by Tracy Guidi, the city’s sustainability coordinator

As global greenhouse gas emissions grow, these types of extreme weather events are expected to occur more regularly.

“The release of greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting impacts on the climate have consequences for Kelowna’s economies, ecosystems and social well-being. Municipalities have the ability to influence and lead GHG reductions through land use planning, transportation options, building requirements and waste services,” writes Guidi.

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“Moving towards a low carbon community helps create a city that Kelowna residents want to live in, as heard through Imagine Kelowna, a city that takes leadership on climate, transportation, urban sprawl, housing and the environment.”

Some of the measures the city can take to meet that aim, writes Guidi in the plan, targets cars, energy, transportation, and urban sprawl.

Policies that help the city meet their goals are already underway, and included the pedestrian and bicycle master plan and improving the public transit system.

Actions recommended include developing a community wide electric vehicle strategy and updating the zoning bylaw to restrict drive-thrus for food, financial institutions, pharmacy and liquor.

The report also recommends implementing an anti-idling bylaw and the OCP aim of “work towards a pricing structure where the cost of parking for an hour at a municipality facility exceeds the price of a single transit trip.”

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Ideas that will be investigated further include options to integrate alternative fuels into city vehicles and options for a regional fuel tax to support the expansion and improvement of the regional transit system and/or alternative forms of transportation.

Based on the provincial Community Energy and Emissions Inventory from 2012, Kelowna’s community greenhouse gas emissions are over 642,000 tonnes, with 55 per cent of emissions coming from vehicles, 36 per cent from buildings and nine per cent from waste.

These emissions represent a 3.5 per cent decrease from the 2007 baseline (equivalent to 12 per cent per capita reduction). Implementing the recommended actions over the next five years, it is estimated that the community will be able to achieve an absolute GHG reduction of four per cent below 2007 levels by 2023.

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