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Pemberton council adopts Community Climate Action Plan

In the works for more than two years, CCAP plots path to zero emissions
Pemby - EV Charger
Accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles is one of six big moves laid out in Pemberton’s new climate action plan.

More than two years since it was first made a key priority, the Village of Pemberton’s Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) is finally complete.

The plan was presented to Pemberton’s Committee of the Whole at its March 1 meeting and again at the regular council meeting on March 8.

The CCAP is a comprehensive outlook on the community’s current greenhouse gas emissions that features six “big moves” necessary to reach its goal of a 50-per-cent reduction in emissions from 2007 levels by 2030—and a 100-per-cent reduction by 2050.

The six big moves outlined in the plan include: shift beyond the car—to encourage active and accessible transportation and transit; electrify transportation—to accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles; step up new buildings—to enhance energy efficiency and low-carbon heating in new buildings; decarbonize existing buildings—to support deep energy retrofits and fuel switching; close the loop on waste—to divert organics and capture value from waste; and organizational leadership—to ensure climate action becomes part of regular decision making and operational processes within the Village of Pemberton.

“This is a very momentous day for me. I’ve been working quite a while on this and very happy to be on the stage now to have a draft plan,” said OCP policy planner Lisa Pedrini. The CCAP focuses on what the Village of Pemberton can do to help community members and local businesses lessen their climate impact, Pedrini said.

“Together we were able to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, determine a vision for our community in the future, and we were also able to use forecasting to determine the amount of emissions we would create if nothing was done.”

The CCAP shows that, currently, approximately 83 per cent of the Village’s emissions come from vehicles: 58 per cent from passenger vehicles and 25 per cent from commercial.

The remaining 17 per cent comes from buildings, which produce eight per cent of emissions, and waste decomposition, which accounts for the remaining nine per cent.

According to Pedrini, the models show that if all the “big moves” are implemented immediately, the Village will only narrowly meet its 2030 target. And while the model shows the 2050 targets to be more difficult to hit, “it is anticipated that new technologies will become available … which will close the gap,” said Pedrini.

The CCAP also incorporates a climate action petition presented to VOP mayor and council in March 2021 on behalf of students in Pemberton Secondary School. 

The petition, which contains 50 signatures, outlines certain actions the students feel are important, including improved transportation, bus passes for students, more bottle filling stations and recycling bins around town, and eliminating old growth logging in the surrounding forests.

Despite being in support of protecting old growth forests, some minor issues were raised by both Mayor Mike Richman and Councillor Ted Craddock on the inclusion of the old growth logging aspect of the plan. 

For Richman, concerns revolved around the wording used to stop old growth logging altogether, as he said sometimes it can be beneficial for the health of the forest to cut certain old growth.

“There’s some old growth that it’s a good time for it to be harvested, whereas second growth is actually bigger and healthier than some of that old growth,” said Richman.  “So I think it’s really tricky if we’re going to put wording around old growth. I don’t think we can [make a blanket statement] ‘we will never cut old growth.’ I don’t think that’s a reasonable approach.”

Pedrini returned for the regular council meeting on Tuesday, March 8 to present the updated CCAP for adoption. Some of the minor changes that were made included adding a section about electrifying the Village’s fleet of vehicles, adjusting the plan’s review period from every five years to every two to three years, and the addition of a new position—to be implemented in 2023—tasked with getting the plan underway.

While there was some discussion among council about whether the new position was necessary, especially given the already tight budget, Pedrini said it is imperative for the success of the CCAP.

“Maybe it’s not a full-time position. I wouldn’t want to make that conclusion at this point. But someone has to be given that responsibility in that role or there’s no point in adopting this plan,” she said. 

“Implementation is absolutely key, and not to pick and choose items. The whole purpose is to implement all of these actions if we want to meet our targets, which are ambitious targets, but we have to have ambitious targets because we’re in a real crisis.”

After discussion among mayor and council, four different motions were made and carried, including: the adoption of the CCAP; the addition of a new position to oversee implementation of the plan; the declaration of a climate emergency for the VOP; and the suggestion that staff join the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection program—which would provide the village with resources and a network of local governments implementing similar climate plans.