Council told Greenhouse Gas targets a challenge requiring guidance

Publication Date: March 2, 2023

village entrance road winter

Report shares progress and challenges in reaching climate goals, including transit initiatives, active transportation highlights, RMOW fleet improvements and wildfire protection

The 2022 third and fourth quarter updates on climate change mitigation and adaptation action conducted by the Resort Municipality of Whistler were received by Council Tuesday evening. 

The Big Moves Climate Action Implementation Plan Progress report outlines how Whistler is tracking on its six Big Moves goals and three climate adaptation goals, which target significant reductions in Greenhouse Gas emissions within the next decade.

“We have made a lot of climate action progress in key areas, but we are currently not on track to achieve our 2030 goal of 50 per cent GHG emission reduction. Achieving the 2030 goal will require enhanced efforts and clear guidance from Council,” says Luisa Burhenne, Manager of Climate and Environment.

The report notes the resort’s dependence on winter snowfall and summers free of wildfires produces a heightened awareness of responsibility to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the potential impact on community wellbeing and economic success without action; however, this awareness has not changed behaviour. Whistler’s largest source of emissions remains passenger vehicle transport, accounting for 52 per cent of community-wide emissions in 2021.

To see the community move beyond the car, Big Move 1, it’s suggested that keeping transit affordable, focusing on the time commitment for a local transit trip, pursuing regional transit and improving access to electric vehicle charging for all user groups will be a priority.

RMOW staff will also be pursuing higher steps in the BC Energy Step Code, as part of the goal to build zero emission buildings, and continuing implementation of programs like Retrofit Assist and the Residential Energy Assessment Rebate Program, to improve existing buildings.

Additionally, engagement with residents, visitors and local businesses will be used to encourage a shift toward lower carbon consumption through sustainable consumption, supporting local reusable products and packaging, and a local shared economy.

Achievements for the last two quarters of 2022 include:

  • The RMOW securing over $10.1 million in grant funding to significantly reduce wildfire risk from the Federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund
  • Completion of high-priority wildfire fuel treatment in Taluswood and Rainbow, with  additional work done around the Kadenwood Gondola
  • New equipment and staff hired to improve Valley Trail winter snow clearing service levels, allowing for easier trips by foot and bike
  • Switching the RMOW Operations team to RMOW e-bikes for approximately 1000km of travel
  • A successful community e-bike share pilot program with Evo
  • Drafting and adoption of the Transit Future Action Plan to optimize transit planning, in partnership with BC Transit
  • RMOW Parks Operations electrifying 60 per cent of their hand tools
  • Emotive funding received to support the shift to electric vehicles (EV) for residents in stratas and conduct an online seminar in collaboration with the District of Squamish. View the Guide to EV charging for apartments and condos
  • Adoption of the Green Building Policy, which incorporates climate action considerations for rezoning applications
  • Launching into waste transfer station design with plans for construction in 2024

The Big Moves Climate Action Implementation Plan (CAIP) was adopted by Council on Aug. 2, 2022. The Big Moves CAIP builds on the RMOW’s previous climate work in the 2016 Community Energy and Climate Action Plan and 2020 Big Moves Strategy, addressing both Whistler’s climate change mitigation and adaptation planning, a key council priority.

The RMOW’s Strategic Plan, released during the same meeting, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing municipal resources to support the Big Moves CAIP. 

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