In 2005 the first roundabouts were built at Henry and Chemainus Road, and Beverly Street.
These reduce GHG emissions as there is very little idling involved compared to the previous traffic back up which often lined up to the schools for traffic waiting to turn up Lakes Road. Traffic speeds are down, accidents are few, and if they happen they are not very serious. As a bonus, not putting in traffic signals saves money, both in construction and maintenance.
MNC was a leader with rebates for low flush toilets before the province required them and had one of the first recycling programs in the Cowichan Valley.
Environmental programs in the schools taught by summer students have been happening for about 14 years, teaching things such as recycling, composting, water conservation and this past year, invasive species.
Along the way the Environment Committee morphed into the Climate Change Advisory Committee, spending several years working with staff, a consultant and the community on a Climate Action and Energy Plan (CAEP) which was adopted by Council in early 2013. To date it has won two prestigious awards.
Committee and staff have been working on the implementation framework, which was passed in October 2014.
MNC became carbon neutral in its operations this year due to the Kitchen Pitch in program and Council’s decision to dedicate 91% of Echo Heights as parkland. MNC has committed to reducing water consumption (a challenge by the Watershed Board) and recently put on the Household Challenge, designed to bring awareness to issues around climate and energy. The Cowichan Valley Citizen helped lead the way with the Household Challenge by giving us so much coverage.
MNC staff have developed plans to save energy in municipal buildings, thereby saving citizens money.
The greatest contribution to GHG emissions in North Cowichan is private homes and vehicles (approx 80%). The Official Community Plan (OCP) sets out Urban Containment Boundaries which encourage development in our 3 core areas, creating more density and ultimately more walkable communities so that we can reduce the average travel trip of our residents.
We are also very proud of the Tax Exemption Revitalization by-law which encourages qualifying green business and development in designated areas by giving them a break on taxes to businesses and residential development in our urban cores. The goal is to make our communities less reliant on vehicles.
The process has come full circle, as the Climate Change Advisory Committee is now being called the Environmental Committee as once again, North Cowichan strives to lead the way on protecting our children and grandchildren’s future.
Thank you to Municipal Engineer John Mackay for providing so much of the background information for this post.