Penticton council voted 6-0 last week to adopt a civic climate action plan which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five per cent compared to 2007 levels by 2020, or by about 20 per cent per resident accounting for population growth.
The plan, developed for the city in conjunction with the RDOS by Stantec Consulting, also set a 2030 target of 10 per cent under 2007 levels, equating to about a 35 per cent reduction for every resident.
The strategy was precipitated by several provincial government climate action initiatives, particularly the BC Climate Action Charter in which local governments, such as the City of Penticton, made a commitment to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2012, report on GHG emissions and develop compact communities.
“There is increasing evidence that global climate change resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is causing, or will soon cause, significant environmental impact on the ecology of the planet,” the bylaw council adopted reads. “In addition to impacting ecology, climate change is expected to have serious negative impacts on global economic growth and development. A solution to the issue will require the activities of billions of humans to conserve energy and reduce GHG emissions.
“All persons and entities, including local governments, have a role to play in finding these solutions.”
According to the plan, the city will encourage the design and construction of energy-efficient buildings while improving the energy efficiency of existing civic buildings and encourage residents, businesses and institutions to retrofit buildings to achieve higher standards of energy performance.
The city will also prompt alternative and renewable sources of energy; smart growth principles in the development of all planning policies; and waste diversion from the landfills.
In addition, the plan calls on the city to promote alternative transportations such as walking, cycling and transit by improving services and infrastructure that support such modes and to foster carpooling, efficient driving, trip and route planning and idling reduction.
Lastly, council committed to engage the public, stimulating community-wide emissions reduction and carbon neutral initiatives.
According to the plan, such action will not only mitigate climate impacts but will also reduce energy costs; minimize Penticton’s vulnerability to fluctuating energy supply and pricing; and create new jobs and business opportunities through promotion of the green economy.
Coun. Garry Litke — who sits on both Penticton’s and the regional district’s climate action charter compliance committees, chairing the former — said city staff are now working on implementing the plan’s action items as they apply to the municipality as a corporation.
A similar plan is also in the works for the larger community of Penticton, he said.
“The community plan will now go out to the public for consultation and feedback,” said Litke. “There are eight action steps that are in that community plan and we will be looking to get feedback from the community on the implementation of those.
“(It will) begin a dialogue with the community with respect to climate action.”