Energy Plan to the UBCM's session: Building and Protecting Sustainable Communities.
It was quite a challenge to incapsulate our plan in five minutes, but here it is:
Good afternoon. North Cowichan is a community of communities. 31,000 people sharing a rural district covering 195 square K’s. We have 3 separate urban areas, a large working municipal forest and a lot of ALR land.
Local government response is key to climate. Decisions on land use, transportation, building standards and waste management influence more than 45 % of local carbon emissions – we’re committed to do our part for future generations.
We knew that to get a platinum plan, all the pieces had to fit together. With funding support from Hydro we hired an innovative consultant – Vancouver’s own Sustainability Solutions Group. We sought input from staff, Council’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and the public at large.
Ours is not a cookie cutter plan – it didn’t rely on any other projects but looked at our unique context. One piece SSG brought to the table was their open source land-use scenario model – GHGProof – our staff were trained to use it and can change the plan based on evolving local needs.
Consultation was extensive. For over a year, we sought input from many members of the community through meetings, workshops and online tools. This resulted in thoughtful and insightful conversations that informed the plan. More than 400 people participated.
We took a common-sense approach – we looked at cost-benefit and payback analysis to vet recommended actions. All of the nine major recommendations have local economic and social impetus and local and global scientific impetus.
Meeting our OCP target of 33% emissions reduction over 2007 levels, by 2020 turned out to be a major challenge and the target was changed to 33% reduction by 2025 – 57% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. A marathon rather than a sprint.
Some of the innovative tools used were Ideascale -- an online platform that garnered 4,000 comments, – GHG Proof land-use scenario modelling and measuring the Social Cost of Carbon. Another tool we affectionately refer to as the MAC
We were one of the 1st local governments to use this tool --- it shows the most effective ways to generate savings and reduce emissions. The more negative and wide the bar the better the strategy. 80 % of our emissions come from private homes and vehicles – above the provincial average. Density wins by a wide margin.
That takes time. To speed it up, Council passed a Revitalization Tax by-law – a tax holiday to qualifying developments and green businesses. How else can we reach our target? Two Other heavy hitters – are greater local food production and increasing our forest cover.
Steady implementation of the plan will not only help us hit our targets. -- and save tax dollars – it saves residents a whole lot of cash too. By 2050, a projected savings of $ 4,000 per household in today’s dollars.
Our Climate Action and Energy Plan makes sense. It’s projected to have created 613 local jobs by 2050. The deliverables are clear: tangible, measurable benefits to the environment, meeting our reduction targets (and commitments) and our residents and muni operations save money.
So Council’s committed, , we’ve got some community engagement, the committee’s excited – what comes next? We’re working on implementation and ways to keep sharing all the plan has to offer with the public – both of which will be ongoing for many years to come. So what’s missing?
How do we pay for our part of it? Hydro co funds an energy manager. Based on a telephone survey Council created a Climate and Energy Action Fund – a dedicated half a percent tax lift to fund programs and leverage other money. Replenished by the savings generated it becomes a revolving fund.
Once adopted – we considered how to share it for greater buy in. The Committee hosted a Communityforclimate Fair – a fun and educational family day with free food & entertainment. Fully funded by partnerships with local groups and businesses people were shown practical ways to reduce their footprint and save energy – we even had a Marimba band!
The task may feel daunting – yet each one doing our part will make al the difference. As Goethe said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” Thank you.