Significant progress made on several areas, including personal transportation and energy use in buildings
Council this week received a quarterly update on the latest progress for Whistler’s Community Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP).
CECAP, which was adopted by Council in 2016, is a plan to reduce Whistler’s contribution to climate change as well as to adapt to climate change. Key actions to reduce the community’s contributions to climate change encompass transportation, buildings, renewable energy and solid waste.
“The change required to tackle something to the magnitude of climate change is immense,” said Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton. “It requires a concerted effort by all levels of government as well as individuals and businesses. Individuals need to exercise their responsibility and influence when considering their climate footprint. Taking personal ownership for change through choices associated with eating habits, purchases, transportation, and home energy systems are just a few areas to consider. As a community, we have a lot of work ahead of us. RMOW will continue to press forward to do our part as a local government to influence the community’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.”
In total, the CECAP encompasses 134 recommended actions. To date, six have been completed, 44 are in progress, 27 are ongoing and 57 have not yet been initiated.
Significant progress was made between July and September 2019 on several areas, including reducing petroleum use in personal transportation and natural gas use in buildings. Together these two sectors account for 90 per cent of Whistler’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- EV charging network. The RMOW has applied for federal funding to substantially increase Whistler’s EV charging network. If successful, this grant will bring a six-fold increase in chargers to the Day Lot Parking, as well as place chargers at strategic locations across the community. This will help more locals choose EVs and enable tourists to choose EVs when travelling to Whistler.
- Lower carbon buses. The RMOW worked with BC Transit on their announced Low Carbon Fleet Program. This means Whistler buses will use more renewable natural gas (RNG) in the short-term and be increasingly transitioned to an electric fleet over the medium-term.
- Valley Trail expansion. Significant investments in three new linkages t for the Valley Trail. These will link Function Junction, Twin Lakes/Tamarisk and Alta Lake Road to make it easier for people to bike and walk to travel between key destinations in Whistler.
- E-bike draft policy. Whistler Council recently supported a draft policy for e-bikes. The policy now allows e-bikes on areas including the Valley Trail, making it easier for people to choose a non-petroleum based way to travel throughout Whistler. E-bikes produce roughly 1/6000th of the GHGs of a car. That means if someone works 200 days a year for 30 years, they will emit the same GHGs over their career commuting with an e-bike compared to just one day with a car.
Energy use in buildings
- Energy Step Code: Through its ambitious adoption of the Energy Step Code earlier this year, RMOW is a leader in requiring high levels of energy performance in new residential buildings. Permits are now being issued to this higher energy performance, with 50 per cent of residential buildings requiring Level 3 and the other 50 per cent requiring Level 4.
- Energy efficient home rebates. The RMOW, in coordination with the provincial government, has increased energy efficiency rebates for homes. The incentive offer for electric heat pumps is now up to $6000 (previously from $4,000).
- Engaging local businesses. The RMOW has commenced outreach and engagement with local businesses, including operators of large commercial buildings, to identify and advance creative climate and clean energy developments.
- WHA energy efficient developments. Significant progress has been made with several Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) developments, including 1020 Legacy Way, which is a Passive House development, and 1330 Cloudburst Drive, which is Energy Step Code 3. These projects offer much needed staff housing while also supporting Whistler’s commitment to compact and transit-connected developments. They are energy efficient and connected to the low carbon District Energy System.
In addition, the Official Community Plan (OCP) received third reading in July 2019. The OCP is Whistler’s most important guiding document that sets out long-term community direction. The updated OCP contains a number of policies that support and provide direction related to energy and climate change.
Work has also been underway to improve Whistler’s resilience to wildfire. The Kadenwood fuel thinning project was completed, and work will now focus on the boundary of Lost lake Park adjacent to Spruce Grove and White Gold. More fuel thinning will also occur on Cheakamus Lake Road from November 2019 to spring 2020. FireSmart work also is ongoing on municipal and private lands, including many multi-unit stratas. To date in 2019, the RMOW in partnership with the Cheakamus Community Forest, Forest Enhancement Society of BC and Province has invested $1,275,000 in wildfire planning, fuel management and the FireSmart program.
Looking forward, the main priority for the RMOW will be to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels by identifying and advancing high impact initiatives in the transportation and building sectors. Another priority will be to engage with key stakeholders and the broader Whistler community to increase dialogue, identify and confirm shared issues of concern, and create buy-in for strong action.
The next quarterly update to council on the RMOW’s progress on the actions laid out in CECAP is scheduled for February 2020.
RMOW’s commitment to climate action
Work on CECAP builds on Whistler’s strong history of commitment to taking action on climate change.
The RMOW signed the BC Climate Charter at its beginning in 2007 and has tracked and monitored community and organization emissions since 2010.
Most recently, the RMOW was recognized at the Union for B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) for achieving the highest level (Level 4) of the UBCM Climate Recognition Program. This highlights both strong action on climate change at the corporate and community level, and successfully achieving carbon neutral requirements.
Read the full CECAP report at whistler.ca/climatechange