District staff consider updated GHG emission reduction targets in Summerland

Residents suggest plastic bag ban, cohousing, having new developments be “solar ready” at open house

More than 40 community members attended an open house at municipal hall in Summerland on June 17 to discuss proposed updates to the community climate action plan.

According to Tami Rothery, alternative energy coordinator, the proposed updates to the plan include changing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets as well as taking further steps to reduce energy use in the community.

The current reduction targets in the Official Community Plan are 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020 and 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050.

So far, at the corporate level, Rothery said the community has reduced GHG emissions by more than 15 per cent since 2007.

She said she “would anticipate the community-wide reductions to be similar.”

“On a community-wide level … we rely on data from the provincial government and they have not released a full data set since 2012,” she said.

READ MORE: COLUMN — Summerland celebrates 10 years of Earth Week

The reduction targets were originally set to match those outlined by the province.

However, in 2018, the province adjusted its targets to be 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050, over the baseline year of 2007.

“Rather than simply continue to copy the provincial targets, Summerland decided to utilize this opportunity to take a locally-relevant, fact-based approach to our target setting,” Rothery said.

“This project will also allow the district to develop the mechanisms to measure our community’s emissions without relying as heavily on provincial data, allowing us to more accurately track our progress over time.”

To improve progress, updated actions are also being proposed for the plan.

They include:looking for ways to improve active transportation, such as walking and biking;

conducting infrastructure lifecycle costing for new developments to ensure that property tax revenues will pay for infrastructure replacement costs;

providing more tree cover to help cool streets and beautify the community;

encouraging backyard composting and utilization of the district’s composting facility; and

working with Interior Health to provide extreme heat warnings to residents as well as cooling centres.

Rothery said staff also gathered ideas about how to achieve reduction targets from community members who attended the open house.

Their suggestions included eliminating plastic bags, cohousing, having new developments be “solar ready,” and creating more green space and gardens to promote pollinators.

She said district staff will work with Community Energy Association consultants to collate the information from the event and produce the updated climate action plan.

The plan will then be considered at an upcoming council meeting.

Residents interested in climate action can visit www.summerland.ca/climateaction or contact climate.action@summerland.ca to be added to the district’s climate action email list.

READ MORE: Committee to address environmental issues

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