Whistler council on Tuesday, July 20 agreed to send a letter to B.C.’s Premier John Horgan, Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, and President, Union of B.C. Municipalities Brian Frenkel denouncing the province’s decision to abruptly terminate its Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP).
The program, which has existed since 2009, repays municipalities that have signed onto B.C.’s climate action charter the same amount that local governments pay in provincial carbon taxes each year, with the caveat that the rebates are reinvested in local climate initiatives.
Whistler receives about $50,000 a year through CARIP. In the past, the funds have been used to pay for projects like the installation of EV chargers in Whistler day lots.
The province announced in May that the final grants will be paid to local governments in 2021.
Cutting the program means lost reporting data, and loss of funding that is flexible, reliable, and non-competitive, RMOW climate action coordinator Luisa Burhenne told councillors during Tuesday’s meeting.
“With the absence of CARIP, I’m afraid that most communities will not report on emissions anymore,” she said, adding, “There’s currently no other program in the province that provides consistent funding over multiple years for climate action. Most of the funding is grant-based. That’s usually very competitive ... and it requires a lot of staff’s time and effort to apply for these grants when we don’t even know if we will receive them.”
She urged councillors to advocate for the reinstatement of CARIP, or for a replacement program that’s similarly consistent, non-competitive and available to all municipalities.
While Councillor Arthur De Jong said he believes a carbon tax is “an imperative,” paying it without having the opportunity to re-invest those funds into local climate action seems like “a broken transaction.”
Local organizations can apply to receive a portion of the rebates to spend on initiatives that will help lower Whistler’s GHG emissions. Councillors agreed on Tuesday to amend the local policy governing the application process, streamlining procedures for those interested in applying for any remaining CARIP funding.
Also included in the council meeting agenda was a letter from the mayor of Peachland similarly condemning the province’s decision to end the program.