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Metro Vancouver’s new low-carbon centre will have strong Whistler voice at the table

Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Cheeying Ho will help guide LC3 Innovation Centre   
PROMINENT VOICE The Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Cheeying Ho will help guide the direction of the Metro Vancouver Low Carbon Cities Innovation Centre.

A new green innovation centre being established in Metro Vancouver will have a prominent local voice at the table.

The Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s executive director Cheeying Ho has been tapped to serve on the core project team for the Metro Vancouver Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) Innovation Centre, which is aimed at accelerating “urban climate solutions through research, capacity building, and innovative financial tools,” according to a release. 

“This is a pretty exciting thing for Greater Vancouver,” Ho said. “The collaboration between us based in Whistler, and to be able to support this initiative but also learn from it and be able to share it with Whistler, is very exciting.” 

Expected to launch in September, the Metro Vancouver LC3 will be a non-profit entity guided by Simon Fraser University’s Renewable Cities program that will aid cities across the region meet their climate goals. It will be funded through a $21.7-million endowment from the federal government, which is part of the broader $183-million Low Carbon Cities Canada initiative, presented in partnership with the cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. 

Modelled after the Toronto-based Atmospheric Fund, which utilizes “innovative financial tools, administers grants and advances policies and programs” to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, Vancouver’s LC3 centre will look at ways to finance and scale up local climate solutions across a number of sectors, such as energy-efficient building retrofits, integrating transportation with land-use patterns, and distributing renewable power. 

Ho’s official role on the team leading the establishment of the centre is as an engagement and non-profit start-up specialist, which, initially, means working to identify stakeholders and “probing deeper into the gaps, the challenges and the biggest needs,” she said, adding that she will also help recruit members to the board. Once the centre is established, she will lead the strategic planning process that will guide the organization over the next five years. 

Financing climate innovation will be a key feature of the centre, Ho said. 

“So if there’s a company or an organization that needs investors to try to develop a new technology, part of this endowment that we’re getting as seed funding [is intended] to bring in other investors who can then create a big fund to get a new initiative going,” she explained. 

“It’s about different financing models we could learn from, not just the Metro Vancouver centre but maybe the other centres that other municipalities could [replicate] as well. So there are definitely learnings to share.” 

The City of Vancouver has an ambitious timetable for climate action, meant to align with the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, including cutting carbon pollution in half by 2030. 

“The Federal funding to create the LC3 centre will boost our ability to develop and invest in new local solutions and support innovation as we continue to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and transportation, which are key priorities of our accelerated climate work,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a release. 

Last month, the Resort Municipality of Whistler adopted a new climate plan that includes targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent (below 2007 levels), reducing visitor travel emissions, and ramping up construction of zero-emission buildings to align with B.C.’s Energy Step Code. 

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