UBCM shares recommendations for climate action

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Wednesday, December 30 2020

Zero emission housing, active transportation infrastructure and efficient land-use planning are some of the recommendations the Union of BC Municipalities is encouraging local governments to embrace in order to tackle climate change. 

The Special Committee on Climate Action, comprised of elected officials, local government staff, provincial representatives, environmental and non-governmental organizations, crown corporations and academia, released seven pages of recommendations related to buildings, transportation, land use, solid waste, resilience, social mobilization and governance. 

Many of the recommendations involve advocating for change and funding support at a provincial and federal level while encouraged local level actions include building policy framework for efforts such as making one-third of housing starts zero emission and 500,000 low-carbon building retrofits over the next 10 years. Suggested actions to achieve that include providing incentives for new builds and retrofits. 

Locally, the Regional District of Nanaimo offers a handful for electoral areas (including Gabriola’s Area B) $250 for the installation of renewable energy systems like solar hot water. 

BC Hydro puts the average installation cost of a solar hot water system at $6,000.

On the transportation side, the committee’s recommendations include partnering with provincial and federal governments to develop a “world-class low carbon vehicle charging network” by 2030, which the committee says should include 300,000 Level 2 EV home chargers, something the RDN says they are actively contributing to through rebates as well as leading the development of a mid-Vancouver Island EV charging network, said Kim Fowler, RDN manager of long-range sustainability and energy planning. 

Active transportation should also be a focus for communities, the committee says. 

On Gabriola Island, the Local Trust Committee is pursuing grants for the development of an active transportation corridor from the ferry terminal to the (under construction) Village Way Path.

From a land use planning perspective, the UBCM committee recommends compact communities through “increasing household occupancy, home sharing, secondary suites, laneway homes, garden and carriage suites.” 

An area of debate for a number of years, the Gabriola Land Use Bylaw permits secondary residences on properties in some zones, but lots must be at least 2 hectares (4.94 acres) in size.

Fowler said the RDN’s solid waste management “aligns very well” with UBCM recommendations. With a 90 per cent waste diversion target, she said the RDN’s goal is one of the “most aggressive” in the province.

The full list of recommendations is available at www.ubcm.ca.