Every week, during the run-up to the Oct. 20 election, the Calendar will ask Lake Country candidates a question about a local issue.
In light of the most recent UN report on climate change saying it will take unprecedented political commitment to deal with the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere if reduction targets are to be met within the next 12 years, this week’s candidate 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?
As far as what the district is doing to address the climate issue, I believe we are doing a great job as of late. We are just about to approve our very first net-zero multiple housing project in our area. This is a huge step and will be a big next step towards reducing our energy requirements in the future. This along with our own hydro generation plant, our focus on tree retention and our on-going quest to prevent local forest fires in our area will all contribute to successful numbers within our area of control. The province’s own GHG numbers have been triple the average as a result of provincial forest fires the last two years, so that focus will be more impactful than any other if we along with other communities can focus on the prevention of large amounts of CO2 entering the system.
I do believe the District of Lake Country is doing a good job in addressing climate change for the following reasons:
• Municipal operations have been carbon neutral since 2012
• Upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Plant doubling plant capacity which will reduce energy requirements by 50 per cent and reduce the amount of hydrogen sulfide and methane released into the atmosphere
• Participation in the BC Energy Step Code designed to achieve energy efficient construction with the expectation of being net-zero energy ready by 2032
• District has an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan with a 30-year time frame aimed at reducing GHG emissions and reducing dependency on fossil fuels
• Support local farmer markets and agricultural fruit stands so people do not have to drive far
• Centralized housing developments served by transit and amenities
• Recycling program with curb side pickup which reduces garbage producing methane
• Advocating for increased transit coverage at peak times on specific routes
• Building trails to encourage active transportation
• Ensuring developers provide sidewalks and bike paths in conjunction with their developments
Addressing climate change is every individual’s responsibility and I feel the District is very cognizant of their responsibility for protecting the residents and their environment.
Lake Country is growing very rapidly, that being said the municipality needs to increase more local transit routes. We need to keep more green space trying not to eliminate our ALR land, if we take something out try to add double back in. Increase idol free zones and traffic backlogs as that are a big issue. Install a few charging stations for electric vehicles in the town core and encourage private businesses to do the same as we grow our business district. Our smaller district vehicles should be replaced by hybrid vehicles when replacement is due. All municipal properties should be deemed an idle free zone that is implemented by a bylaw.
The municipality is taking positive steps to address the issue of climate change, for example, in its approval of net zero building projects, embarking on the adoption of the new energy step code for new builds, the establishment of a climate action reserve fund in order to become GHG (greenhouse gas) neutral, signing on the Climate Action Charter which commits the municipality to becoming carbon neutral in corporate operations, to measure and report our community’s greenhouse gas emissions and to create complete, compact, more energy efficient communities.
We need to ensure that we are actively measuring and reporting back to community on these initiatives – are we ahead of schedule, behind schedule and if so, why?
With the recent flooding and the 2017 fire that devastated homes in the Nighthawk community we need to focus on understanding and actively managing the local impact of climate change on our residents and businesses. For example;
Update our floodplain mapping so that developers are planning and designing homes based on current, relevant information – i.e. development in the Woodsdale area is based on a 2009 Drainage Plan;
Actively manage of our interface areas to reduce the risk to our neighbourhoods from forest fires – the Province just announced that $50 million is available to municipalities for this work over the next 3 years;
Ensure our fire department is effectively resourced to respond in case of flood or fire
As Tamsin Lyle, a keynote speaker at the Okanagan Water Board’s AGM this summer said “With a changing climate, and more extreme weather and flood events, we can’t continue to build our way out of the problem. We have an opportunity to do things differently, and to do them better”.