At a special Council meeting on the capitol budget -- February 12 -- North Cowichan passed the following motion:
That Council begin a public consultation process, including an IPSO Reid survey, to determine public support for an additional 1% property tax increase to build up a climate action reserve to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.
The property tax increase without this 1% is in line with the 2102 - 2016 Five Year Plan, presented to the public last year -- a 3.8% increase. This would be in addition to that -- and if adopted, would bring the tax increase up to 4.82%.
If Council adds this 1 % it would be used for projects that would reduce, not only emissions, but energy bills. Did you know our yearly energy bill is $1.6 million dollars? This represents about 7% of all the taxes we collect. It includes all our facilities and streetlights as well as the municipal fleet.
A 1% increase would be about $ 13 on the average house (valued at $ 340,000).
CAO Dave Devana estimated the types of projects selected would have a 5 - 7 year pay back period, which is a pretty good return on investment.
You may know that Council (with 1/3 funding from BC Hydro) hired a Vancouver group -- Sustainability Solutions -- to come up with a Climate Action and Energy Plan. (CAEP)
This plan, now in its final draft form, is expected to come forward for consideration at the regular meeting on February 20th. (3pm) Though its not exactly a tome, it is over 130 pages, so I can only give you a brief glimpse. You can find a link to the plan here.
It is the first plan in British Columbia to take an integrated approach to climate change mitigation for the broader community as well as municipal operations.
It also clearly outlines an economic and community development agenda along with a plan to reduce GHG emissions.
The CAEP received input from over 400 people in one form or another. (the consultants say that is amazing)
One goal they were charged with -- to come up to ways to reduce emissions by 33 % by 2020 is an ambitious one, and the committee and consultants realized it would be too hard to meet. So it's been moved to 2025.
Business as usual scenarios predict our emissions would climb to 15% over 2007 levels by 2020, so if we are serious about this, we must do something.
According to the BC Government (CEEI) data, 76% of North Cowichan's emissions come from on-road transportation -- the provincial average is 59%.
So that's one aspect. Then there's the cost. No matter what is causing the climate to change -- the cause debate is irrelevant to this -- we do know it is changing.
Its become well accepted that the less we do now to adapt and mitigate, the more we'll have to do later and the longer we wait the more it will cost. And, sadly, the longer we wait, the people who have to pay (in more ways than dollars) our today's children and their children. To me, that is unjust.
If you'd like your voice heard on this matter, consider sending a letter to Council at
firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by our February 20th meeting. You can ask to be a delegation by contacting the Municipal Clerk the Friday before the meeting, or come early and sign up to give your 2 minutes input before the business of the meeting starts. Whatever your thoughts, I hope we hear from you.