Leader Jagmeet Singh says NDP wants to see homes retrofitted by 2050

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, sitting in the Oak Bay home of architect Terence Williams, announced the NDP’s plan to encourage all property owners in Canada to retrofit their homes by 2050.

“It is a bold plan,” said Singh, sitting with Williams and newly nominated Victoria NDP candidate Laurel Collins. “This will be a great economic spur.”

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Singh said the plan, which does not yet have a pricetag, starts with provincial governments retrofitting government buildings and social housing, for example, and expand to commercial buildings.

Homeowners will have access to a low-interest fund to make retrofits, after which they can use utility savings to pay back the loan, said Singh.

The election-platform item is part of a bigger environmental plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases, save homeowners $900 per year, per family, on average, and create jobs in construction and energy auditing, said Singh.

“In total, we are going to create jobs, save money for families and fight climate change,” he said. “We are committed to not just talking about this [climate] crisis but putting forward a plan that will tackle it in a meaningful way.”

Williams shared the details of how he and his wife downsized to a smaller 1905 home close to Oak Bay Village three years ago. They retrofitted it with new, triple-glazed windows and a flat green roof, installed hot-water heating and a heat-recovery ventilation system, which brought the home’s January utility bill for power, lights and heating to about $180.

The entire retrofit cost between $400,000 and $450,000 — about $300 a square foot, said Williams.

Singh did not have costing details for his party’s retrofit program, but said the NDP would lay out the details of its whole environment plan “moving forward.”

Collins said Victoria residents care deeply about climate leadership, and the retrofit plan ties into the idea that lowering carbon emissions can be done in a way that reduces costs for families.

Buildings are the third largest source of Canada’s annual greenhouse-gas emissions every year, making the retrofit plan a meaningful one, Singh said.

The NDP criticized the former federal Conservative government for cutting the ecoEnergy Home Retrofit program, which ran from April 2007 to March 2012, and the Liberals for spending $4.5 billion to buy an oil pipeline.

“We will make different choices,” said Singh.

Singh said Canada is no better off after more than three years of a federal Liberal government.

“Half of Canadians are on the brink of going bankrupt,” said Singh. “Our plan, our vision, is to help people who need it first.” Singh referred to a survey conducted for insolvency firm MNP Ltd. in December that said 46 per cent of Canadians polled said they were $200 away from financial insolvency as interest rates rise.

Singh answered questions about the seeming wave of conservative governments being elected across the country, most recently in Alberta, where the new government under the United Conservative Party wants to get rid of the carbon tax. Singh said conservative provincial governments don’t represent all Canadians and challenge to the NDP’s climate plan.

The beauty of the NDP plan is that it includes an economic driver and an affordability measure and fights climate change, said Singh.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

Editor's note: This story has been corrected. An incorrect name was given for architect Terence Williams.

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