Comment: CRD is taking action to meet the region’s climate emergency

Re: “CRD does little on climate emergency,” letter, April 14.

As the letter-writer notes, co-ordinating a region-wide response to the climate crisis is no easy task — but it’s a challenge the Capital Regional District’s board believes our region is up to.

article continues below

Bold action on climate change will require accelerated collective action that includes support for — among other crucial projects — low-emission buildings, transportation reform, efficient land use, a wide-scale reduction in waste and investment in new infrastructure. At the same time, our region’s communities must also begin adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

Each level of government holds different levers to influence action with industry, institutions and community members. At a regional level, the CRD’s mandate is to support local government collaboration on climate-action efforts and to responsibly manage our own assets with a climate-emergency lens.

Working with and on behalf of the region’s local governments, the CRD leads grant applications for region-wide projects and co-ordinates planning and data procurement exercises to support municipal planning (including, for example, our recent electric-vehicle infrastructure planning guide and regional climate projections report). CRD staff also deliver a range of climate-focused community initiatives, including the recently launched residential-retrofit acceleration project and a successful oil-to-heat-pump incentive program.

Under this mandate, our staff deliver capacity-building climate-action education for local governments, industry, students and residents — and they collaborate closely with their peers at the provincial and federal levels to inform the climate-action policies and programs affecting our community.

Looking at our own corporate practices, the CRD is working to optimize our fleet, transitioning to electric vehicles with near-term plans to pilot hydrogen vehicles and, in some cases, swap them out altogether for e-bikes. The board is also discussing new opportunities for the beneficial use of landfill gas produced at Hartland Landfill, a significant source of our greenhouse-gas emissions.

Of course, there’s more we can and will be doing — and the CRD’s declaration of a climate emergency on Feb. 13 has given us the directive we need to accelerate our work in this area.

As an immediate response, the board reiterated our collective and urgent need for action to the provincial and federal governments, supporting an April 14 motion at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities asking for a provincewide declaration and response. I am happy to say that this motion passed.

CRD staff are working to secure funding for new community-energy and emissions-reductions work through B.C. Hydro’s Community Energy Manager program. We’ll also be leading a data project to better understand our emissions sources (and how to reduce them over the next 10 to 30 years) throughout 2019.

Many municipalities across the region have joined the CRD in declaring a climate emergency, creating new opportunities for all of us to collaborate on embedding climate-action-focused priorities within existing plans and municipal processes. The CRD has recommended that municipalities include the declaration in their strategic-planning process so local governments can respond using a measured and local approach. I’m inspired by both this affirmation of shared responsibility and by public interest in seeing bold action from elected officials as quickly as possible.

The CRD will continue being a leader in this work, supporting region-wide collaboration with relevant data, tools and programs for our municipal partners to implement as part of their own climate-action efforts — and we’ll continue to be a strong advocate for this emergency on a broader scale, too, encouraging our provincial and federal counterparts to push the levers at their disposal.

Colin Plant chairs the board of the Capital Regional District.

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist