- This past weekend I was part of a panel - "Energy Revolution" - at the Columbia Institute Conference, Tools for Inspired Leaders.
All members of what is now called The Environment Committee -- both past and present -- are leaders. The Dictionary.com definition of a leader is:
1. a person or thing that leads.
2. a guiding or directing head, as of an army,movement, or political group.
Many, many citizens in North Cowichan are also leaders. If you are taking the time to read this, I suspect you are one of them.
I wrote recently about how NC has been "Leading the Way" on the environment since the 1970's, for the CVRD electronic newsletter 12 Ideas.
North Cowichan is a 200 square Km rural Municipality with 3 distinct urban areas and many rural ones. We have 40 Km’s of oceanfront, two major rivers and 30% of our land is agricultural. We also have a municipal working forest reserve comprising 25% of our land base - and a population of 30,000. To put it in perspective, Vancouver, one of the 'greenest' cities in the world has 114 sq Km's and about 600,000 population. (and many more taxpayers that help foot the bill for that sustainability)
Yet a profession poll indicated support for a dedicated tax to fund A Climate Action and Energy Reserve Fund so we can do our part. 1/2% of your general municipal taxes goes into this fund, which will help us reduce our energy use and impact on climate and replenish itself with the savings.
The dedicated tax costs $2.17 per $100,000 assessment and there was $ 262 K in reserve at the end of 2014 - On the corporate side – Council recently allocated
$ 245,000 from the CAEP Reserve fund for 2015 Corporate Energy projects, and will fully replenish this starting in 2016, based on a 9.1 year payback. One project is ornamental street lights converted over to LED. Projected annual savings? S 57,576 with a payback of 3.3 years. And it reduces energy by 214,000 kWh (enough to power 20 BC homes for a year!)
Did you know that up to 45 % of local carbon emissions are influenced by the decisions Council makes about land use, transportation, building standards and waste management? It is clear local government is key to addressing climate change.
We got our CAEP with funding help from Hydro -- hiring an innovative and talented group of professionals – Vancouver’s own Sustainability Solutions Group, (SSG) which also happens to be a worker’s co op and Hydro continues to fund about half the salaries of two of our staff members to carry out the plan.
Using a common-sense approach to emissions reductions, the plan includes cost-benefit and payback analyses in the vetting of recommended actions.
The plan is based on high level analysis of energy costs, savings and the investments required -- by the municipality -- the community and various partners. With steadfast implementation we’ll meet our targets – and save citizens money. Based on a collective investment over time our constituents gain an annual savings of $ 4,000 per household in today’s dollars – not chump change, and over 600 community jobs will be generated by 2050.
Densification is the best long term strategy.
Our policy is to encourage complete, compact, more energy efficient rural and urban communities by limiting growth to our Urban Containment Boundaries -- specific areas within our existing urban nodes. We have a revitalization plan going in Chemainus, passed in 2011 and local area plans in draft form for Crofton, and an area dubbed University Village, which is close to the city of Duncan.
Two other heavy hitters are more local food production and increased forest cover. We are working with our local Green Community to potentially use about 3 acres of prime municipal land for an incubator farm. The municipal forest is self supporting with ½ a million $ set aside to purchase land to expand it.
We have a Revitalization Tax Exemption By-law in 2012 -- another initiative that puts us in the role of 'leader'.
Part of leading is being informed: One way is to sign up to get updates on all things municipal.
With leadership each of us in our own local areas, can do what needs to be done to reduce the impact of climate change and reduce our energy consumption -- and many, many people in North Cowichan are already leading the way -- we have to get this done. Let’s be leaders and work alongside each other to create a sustainable future….
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
Read on if you want more specifics.....
On the corporate side – Council recently allocated $ 245,000 from the CAEP Reserve fund for 2015 Corporate Energy projects, and committed to fully replenish this money starting in 2016, based on a 9.1 year payback. One project is ornamental street lights converted over to LED. There is a Projected annual savings of $ 57,576 (energy and operating and maintenance) with a payback of 3.3 years while reducing our energy consumption by 214,000 kWh (enough to power 20 BC homes for a year!)
At the aquatic centre, a regional facility, we are retrofitting the lighting system with LED fixtures this year and plan to install solar hot water heating by 2017. A feasibility study for Geothermal heating is scheduled for 2018.
The ice rink in the south has gone LED -- we now have 250 watt induction lighting with minimal heat output which are rated to last 100,000 hours,
(17 years based on our usage) and the air conditioner chillers are updated to energy-efficient models, and a heat-recovery system now reclaims waste heat from the rink's ice plant.
A heat recovery project that would assist the adjacent aquatic centre is scheduled for 2019 and Council just authorized the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society to construct storm-water wetland treatment on the dry side of the dike.
We also won an aware for Excellence in Policy Planning – Small Town & Rural Areas – Silver Winner: from Planning Institute of BC in 2014
In October 2014 Council adopted an Implementation and Monitoring Plan, making us one of 25 municipalities across the country to reach FCM’s Milestone 4.
The senior staff now look at all operations and infrastructure through a climate lens.
Next steps recommended by the committee are an Interdepartmental cooperation committee. A GREEN TEAM is expected to form with staff who are already keen to steer the organization in all it’s operations.
A Zoning bylaw review is being undertaken. it will Incorporate as much of the plan as possible.
Council has allocated $ 38,000 in incentive programs in partnership with BC Hydro and City Green Solutions. Public education workshops are planned that draw on what was learned through the HH challenge to help people in reducing energy, GHGs, water use, waste and increasing consumption of local food. Funds are dedicated to promote these programs & workshops and we will invest in two energy monitors that will be available for loan through one branch of our library system.
Staff are looking to work with BC Hydro through their “New Construction Program” to model the energy use of the new RCMP building before construction.