Kelowna city council has adopted an implementation plan for B.C.’s new residential construction Energy Step Code. (Capital News files)

Kelowna taking “steps” to address climate change

City adopts implementation plan for provincial Energy Step Code for residential construction

Kelowna’s mayor corrected a mistake Monday he says he made eight months ago.

Mayor Colin Basran said he regretted not voting in favour of the city bringing in the province’s Energy Step Code for new residential construction when it first came before council last summer.

“I actually do regret not voting to implement it eight months ago,” said Basran after the city heard from staff again about the process aimed at implementing a plan to require new homes to be net-zero energy ready by 2032 in a bid to address climate change.

“I won’t make that same mistake again today.”

Council voted to bring in the step code after staff designed a process aimed at introducing it locally prior to the mandatory implementation of the code by the province.

By step three of the code in 2022, new homes will be built 20 per cent more energy efficiently than they are today.

Last August, council deferred a decision on implementing the code, saying it wanted to hear from the local branch of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association about the potential impact before introducing it.

City staff told council implementation of the code will increase the cost of new construction between 2.5 and 6.4 per cent by step three.

But it was made clear the city had little choice if it wants to address climate change. Housing in the city, it was told, accounts for 21 per cent of Kelowna’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Basran said reading recent reports about the urgent need to act on climate change made him realize he made a mistake eight months ago.

One report said Canada is warming at twice the rate elsewhere in the world and another said the planet has just 11 years to act before the effects of climate change will be irreversible.

“We can talk about affordability, but affordability won’t matter if this planet is uninhabitable. It really doesn’t matter,” said Basran. “Those reports are scary.”

City sustainability co-ordinator Tracy Guidi said action on climate change needs to be driven by the people, not countries, and the step code was one way to do that.

Th five-step process sets energy reduction targets for each step. The code will gradually be introduced under the implementation plan.

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