Thursday, April 26, 2007

A new passing fad?

Global warming has become such the flavour of the moment. Everyone wants to be seen to be doing something, but no one is willing to take the steps needed locally.

What can local governments do? First and foremost increase the density in the city. In the case of of Victoria this means higher density in the areas with the fewest people. Broadmead and Uplands is where it needs to start.

Where do you start? Make the minimum requirements for a lot in all areas of greater Victoria that is already covered with housing to be 4000 sq feet. You then assess the value of all lots over 8000 sq feet as if they were subdivided.

You also need to change the set backs for houses to streets. There is no reason why you should not be able to build right up to the street's edge.

You also need to make it easier to make houses into strata subdivisions.

Just one idea

CRD mulls new climate-change department

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Capital Regional District directors inched closer yesterday to establishing a new department to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But members of the CRD environment committee stopped short of adopting a consultant's Community Energy Plan report or recommending that hundreds of thousands of tax dollars be spent to meet greenhouse-gas-reduction targets.

Instead, committee members directed staff to report back on steps the CRD has to take to establish a Climate Change Service. That move would put greenhouse gas in the same category as sewage or garbage and create a CRD department to manage it.

Directors also asked for a cost/benefit analysis of developing an aggressive Community Energy Plan strategy for the capital region.

The report, developed by the Sheltair Group, estimates if the CRD invested between $990,000 and $1.3 million a year in greenhouse-gas reduction, it could leverage between $6.8 million and $15 million in partnership funding from senior governments, agencies like B.C. Hydro and the private sector.

The report, prepared last year but just received by the committee, envisions the new CRD service working with municipalities to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

It sees a Climate Change Service as a natural offshoot of the Regional Growth Strategy, with six goals, including:

- Improving energy efficiency in buildings

- Increasing transportation efficiency

- Encouraging energy-efficient land use planning

- Diversifying the energy supply

- Educating residents and businesses

- Demonstrating local government leadership.

Dean Murdock, representing a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, businesses and faith-based groups calling itself the Cool Capital Coalition, urged the committee to recommend the board adopt the plan.

But the committee wanted to see more details of how local tax dollars would be spent before committing them, although chairwoman Susan Brice said a vital first step was taken.

While some committee members, such as Central Saanich Coun. Chris Graham and View Royal Mayor Graham Hill, support the principle of reducing greenhouse gas, they said detailed cost-benefit figures are needed before they could defend to taxpayers establishing a new service.

"This is a huge whale and we've got it by the tail and we're just trying to figure out where to go with this," said Graham.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff said a new service would be more akin to "a secretariat" than a new CRD department. It would not duplicate existing municipal services, but be a facilitator, she said.

The public is ahead of local governments in demanding action on climate change, Brice said, adding it wouldn't surprise her to see the province mandating regional governments to take action.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007


By Brennan Clarke
News staff

Apr 25 2007

Options outlined to cut local greenhouse gases

Capital Regional District environment committee members will be presented today (Wednesday) with four options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and local environmentalists will be on hand to ensure they make the right choice.

Dean Murdock, head of a group of advocacy organizations dubbed the Cool Capital Coalition, called the first option a “do nothing” approach, while options 2 and 3 call for incremental steps. Option 4, the most ambitious plan, proposes reducing greenhouse gases more than 15 per cent below 1995 levels over the next five years. Energy-saving measures over that time would reduce consumption by 2.84 gigajoules at estimated savings of $55 million a year to residents and businesses.

“The comprehensive plan is really the only one you can pursue if you’re going to take meaningful action,” said Murdock, a director of the Sierra Club’s Victoria chapter. “We don’t think the plan is perfect, but we think it’s a great first step and we want to make sure the CRD agrees and supports it. The targets in the comprehensive plan are ambitious, but they’re necessary for regional sustainability and to achieve the provincial target of a 30 per cent reduction by 2020.”

While the four options haven’t been officially released, coalition members that sit of municipal advisory committee have gleaned many of the pertinent details, he added.

Conservation measures would be targeted in six key areas: improving energy efficiency in buildings, increasing transportation efficiency, encouraging efficient land use, diversifying energy supplies, public education and government leadership.

Coalition members include representatives from churches, water conservation groups, green business owners and environmental watchdogs such as the Sierra Club, Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Friends of Bowker Creek Society.

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