In brief: Even as the US sunbelt freezes (snowballs aplenty for Senator Inofe), 2020 rates as the second warmest year yet recorded. Focused on solutions after its latest devastating climate and biodiversity reports, the United Nations has just this week released Making Peace With Nature: A Scientific Blueprint to Tackle the Climate, Biodiversity and Pollution Emergencies.
The essential steps for local action were mapped more than a decade ago in the Sooke Sustainability Development Strategy and the current Official Community Plan. This council made climate action a pillar of its four-year Strategic Plan. District staff, committees and consultants are working with the "green lens" that is becoming normalized through long-established informal yet now increasingly formal practice and policy.
The 2019/20 Climate Action Committee (CAC) produced an impactful, realistic Work Plan adopted by council last fall and now embedded to varying degrees into staff priorities and the five-year budget. Climate action and local multi-level resiliency is also an integral aspect of the District's recommitment to community economic development. Now a new CAC is tasked with delivering recommendations (perhaps focused on citizen action) for what will eventually -- sometime after the new OCP is complete and its directions properly digested -- be Sooke's first bona-fide Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Strategy (aka Climate Action Plan; see Saanich example).
The Official Community Plan review team certainly gets it and so evidently does #Sooke. In directly reflecting public input, "emerging goal #1" for the new OCP is "Green and Net Zero." Adding urgency to themes repeated in previous Sooke planning documents, the aspirational actions read:
* "Mobilize to address the climate emergency head-on ~ achieve net zero emissions by 2050;
* "Protect the countryside for habitat and agriculture, while focusing urban growth in the town centre;
* "Reduce car dependency and offer more transportation choices, with priority given to walking, cycling and transit use;
* "Create green infrastructure that is both high-performing and delightful;
* "Support existing and new local businesses, and foster green economic development that respects ecological limits."
Given the lack of substantial progress to date + the huge GHG cuts required over the next decade, all is prelude to the bold actions and lifestyle shifts required from each of us to ride the tiger and do our best for this and future generations.
The consensus big-three personal revolutions? Revamp our diets. Drive our gas-guzzlers less (or switch to EVs). And install heat pumps in homes and everywhere indoors that people gather.
Okay, that's the precis, onwards with the long version if you wish ...
New year, new committee assignments: I've been named council's appointee to the Climate Action Committee (CAC21) in following Cllr. St-Pierre, who is taking his experience as a planner, builder and permaculture farmer to the newly revived Land Use and Development Committee. Cllr. LaJeunesse, meanwhile, is bringing his Sooke-savvy (lifelong variety; read: connected, caring, common sense) vision and expertise to the just-launched Community Economic Development Committee (CED).
Like the Official Community Plan Advisory and Sooke Program of the Arts memberships, these three select committees are stocked with what we on council rate as top-drawer sets of volunteers keen to share their expertise and contribute meaningfully. I'll be focusing here on the Climate Action Committee in preparation for our Feb. 23 meeting, though it's important to note that council, District staff, the OCP team and these three groups are each mandated, in their respective ways, to maintain a climate perspective. Entirely apt given that "addressing the climate emergency head-on" has emerged as a priority in the OCP review.
In building on the significant progress of the 2019/20 CAC (details below), the members of CAC21 have been asked to do groundwork as the District begins to prepare its first climate adaptation and mitigation strategy (hereafter referred to, if only by me, as the A&M Strategy) and join the growing number of BC communities with dedicated climate action plans.
The committee is also directed to cross-pollinate ideas and expertise with the CED Committee. From 2022 onward, the latter will be largely responsible for climate action initiatives at the committee level. (The CED Committee's Terms of Reference require it to "identify opportunities and make recommendations on innovative projects to help achieve carbon neutrality" and "provide a local perspective on climate change mitigation and adaptation while considering the balance between economic, environmental and social aspects.") At the end of this year the CAC will be mothballed once again (as it was in 2016-19) for potential revival at some future date.
CAC21's raison d'etre is stated in the opening paragraph of its Terms of Reference: "The purpose of the Climate Action Committee is to provide advice to Council and recommend policies that will assist the District to achieve a reduction in all carbon emissions by 40-50%, both corporately and in the community, by 2030."
The District itself has been carbon neutral in municipal operations for likely five years now. Yet making big cuts at the community level is a hugely ambitious, so far seemingly impossible, goal that nonetheless aligns with targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC, as you know, is urgently asking us all to make the 2020s a true turnaround decade in cutting "global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions" and bending the skyrocketing, hockey stick warming curve.
Here's the wake-up call: In BC, the commonly referenced GHG measurement baseline year is 2007. Between then and 2018, total carbon emissions in the Capital Regional District have dropped a meagre 1.1 percent vs. the stated goal of 33 percent by 2020.
The more hopeful news is that the CRD carbon load has declined 14% per capita; Greater Victoria's population has grown 15% over the last 12 years, and as the study notes, there's reason to be encouraged by "the efforts by the CRD and local governments to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions." (Exact municipal breakdowns can be found in this supplemental report. Sooke clocks in at a 0.1% decline in tonnage, a pipsqueak number yet not shamefully so given our population has increased more than 40% ~ 9,699 population in the 2006 census vs. 14,001 in 2017. Our tC02e -- tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent -- emissions per capita was 3.3 in 2018, down from 4.5 tonnes 11 years earlier. Which can be translated in layperson's terms as not nearly enough yet it's a start.)
The CRD is planning to complete another regional and municipal GHG inventory in late fall 2021 that will cover the 2020 year and follow the same GPC Basic + Framework. Thereafter the still provisional intention is to measure every two years ~ exactly what's needed for communities to chart our own respective progress.
A few key links to set the stage:
~ Sooke Climate Action website page (frequently updated/refreshed these days)
~ Capital Regional District Climate Action
~ GHG definitions: Kid-friendly + Middlebrow + United Nations glossary of climate terms
~ Sources: Global (infographic) + Canada + BC + Sooke (infographic & chart by emissions type, see pg. 36/37)
~ Ann Baird on the challenge of counting "externalized" emissions and reaching true carbon neutrality
~ The "Carbon Budget" explained + latest annual global measurements
~ Project Drawdown Table of Solutions
~ Canadian Climate Caucus resource library (definitive one-stop)
~ Carbon Calculator
~ David Suzuki Foundation on practical actions we each can take
~ Sooke Sustainable Development Strategy (2008)
The previous CAC generated a comprehensive Work Plan last year that focused on food security, transportation, land use and education & engagement. Its 53 action items were analyzed and costed out by staff, who in turn have generated a timeline table that covers the next four years and extends out into the future for big-ticket items. Many actions involve dedicated staff time this year and next, in part through work on short-term priorities in the parks and transportation master plans. There is also a range of advocacy work pointed at other levels of government and service providers. Much of the responsibility lies with council (this and future ones) as we strive to keep eyes on the prize while also weighing staff service hours and tax implications against actions recommended in this document, the master plans and, soon enough, the new OCP.
Bottom line: The Climate Work Plan is a fantastic achievement that hasn't been acknowledged nor fully understood (by me included, I confess) nearly enough. I also rate the CED Committee's multi-tier resiliency mandate as great news. Proof that the District is pursuing the holistic goal of textbook community economic development: "To create inclusive local economies, develop nourishing livelihood opportunities, build on local resources and capacities, increase community control and ownership, enhance the health of the environment, and encourage community resilience." (per Simon Fraser University's Five Principles of Community Economic Development.)
Sooke's formal climate adaptation and mitigation strategy will, I trust, be prioritized once the Official Community Plan is complete in 2022. Given that job one of a local government is to keep its citizens safe and secure, the strategy will focus heavily on how the District will manage the likeliest of local climate-change impacts: Wildfires, drought, storm surges, ocean acidification and heavy rains. (Sooke has an Emergency Plan and Chief Mount, in tandem with the Emergency Operations Centre's Matt Barney, the Emergency Support Services team and CRD Emergency Management, is continually improving local preparation for the worst; I'll be creating a link-rich compendium of District climate-ready initiatives and undertakings for posting later this month.)
This A&M Strategy will ideally also capture the broader community perspective of the Climate Action Plans that have been materializing around BC in recent years. These recognize that we're all impacted and that every last one of us has a role to play in reducing community GHG levels. Examples of finalized Climate Action Plans include Saanich, Ucluelet, North Cowichan, Squamish, Salt Spring Island, Kelowna, Nelson, the Comox Valley, Prince George + the big-league versions in Victoria, Burnaby and the globally recognized superstar in climate action planning, the City of Vancouver.
Climate planning is also underway in Coquitlam, Campbell River, Kamloops and other communities with solid but now outdated sustainability documents that need to be revisited/rethought for these increasingly perilous times. (For our part, we have the excellent and undervalued 2008 Sooke Sustainability Development Strategy; it's one of my favourite of all Sooke planning documents and literally says it all. To actually heed its recommendations and not regurgitate them in expensive shiny new reports, as good as they are, is a trick we've not yet mastered.)
The Union of BC Municipalities recognizes that every last BC community needs a modern Climate Action Plan and intends to lobby the province for the necessary funding. This said, the District is now independently getting into the game by assembling a set of contemporary BC climate-action documents as an A&M Strategy starting point for council, staff and all committees. And council is asking CAC21's set of expert volunteers to develop and submit their brightest, most impactful GHG-shrinking recommendations (perhaps, if it be the will the committee, in the form of a rough and ready first draft Climate Action Plan that borrows freely from the Sustainability Strategy and other documents in the District's library).
So bon voyage, best wishes and sincere thanks to (in alpha order) CAC21:
* Beatrice Gentili-Hittos, a recent University of Victoria graduate (Forest Biology and Environmental Studies) and core organizer with Climate Justice Victoria;
* Shandell Houlden, Royal Roads University PhD candidate and a skills educator with Thriving Roots Wilderness School;
* Bernie Klassen (Chair), Transition Sooke board member of long standing, Zero Waste Sooke core team member, organizer of the Sooke Repair Cafes and the Green New Deal town hall;
* Elizabeth Lange, author, academic and specialist in the field of Transformative Learning (and how it might be applied to climate-action behavioural change);
* Jessica Prieto, UVic grad (Business Commerce and Economics), experience in project management and logistical planning with Nestle Mexico, and now part of the team at ALM Organic Farm and Full Circle Seeds;
* Anna Russell, a consultant and specialist in public policy development with an interest in GHG drawdown;
* Cassandra Schostek, a Sooke-based GHG reduction and energy efficiency consultant with the Alberta Energy Regulator;
* Michael Tacon, co-founder and president of Transition Sooke;
* Steve Unger (Vice Chair), solar power specialist and practicing regenerative agriculture at InishOge Farm and Field School.
(And full credit where it's due to Cllr. St-Pierre and his estimable 2019/20 colleagues: Roland Alcock, Diane Bernard, Susan Clarke, Catherine Keogan, Andrew Moore, Eric Nolan, Christina Schlattner, Kyle Topelko and Adrienne Wass)
This new group will be proceeding with the assistance of yours truly (a voting member yet primarily tasked as the go-between with council), Parks and Environmental Services Supervisor Jessica Boquist and, upon her/his/their arrival in the spring, the District's new Community Economic Development Officer. Unlike me to a degree, both have limited hours to offer. It'll be up to the committee itself to do whatever heavy lifting it can on its own and perhaps (logically) secure working group assistance from any community collaborators they invite.
The CED Officer's job description cites responsibility for "advancing economic, environmental, and social goals" and the hiring committee is seeking "demonstrated experience in sustainability planning."
In due course, and as recommended by the previous CAC, I'm confident the District will consider bringing in a climate action specialist of the kind now working in Central Saanich, Saanich, Squamish and many communities that are treating their declared climate emergencies seriously. Which we clearly are doing, as you'll now learn if indeed you've not nodded off by now ... (I usually find that two kinetic minutes with this snaps me back to attention.)
Council's Commitment to Environmental Leadership
in Council's 2019-22 Strategic Plan, Environmental Leadership is one of six "core values and guiding principles" along with Effective Governance, Community Well-Being and Safety, Community Vibrancy, Long-Term Thinking and Effective and Consistent Communication. (These values, backed by an action plan, are decidedly not more words on e-paper, incidentally. I could assemble extensive footnoted blog posts demonstrating that Sooke's elected reps, committee members, community groups and local citizens have been addressing all six since incorporation and long before. Everyone has had the best intentions and a wealth of great ideas, yet civic and political priorities in tandem with small-town budgets have resulted in variable progress.)
The Environmental Leadership sub-headings in Council's Strat Plan read:
i) Respond to climate change boldly;
ii) Redefine and implement Sooke Smart Growth;
iii) Become a leader in ecologically sustainable corporate practices.
Goal #2 of the appendix (aka practical actions) is headlined "Demonstrate Leadership in Climate Action" and features 18 bullet points that we on council have since distilled into "now," "next" and "later" categories with the understanding that we can only do so much given budgets and available staff time over our four years.
As said above, Council and the District's priority for climate action in 2021 is the A&M Strategy. The Climate Action Committee has been asked to focus on "tangible actions that can be executed in Sooke and which will make positive progress in addressing the climate emergency." We'll be formally meeting twice this year with the CED Committee. And there's a stated request that CAC21 explore and understand the District's ongoing climate-first efforts. All recommendations are to be rendered unto Caesar by year's end. This still relatively open invitation allows committee members to focus on their passions while remaining in step with the District.
Sooke CAO Norm McInnis presented the foundational bones for the A&M Strategy to council last month (Jan. 11 agenda, pp. 87 onward). It is based on these four documents:
1. Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment for British Columbia (a 2019 CleanBC study that identifies wildfires, summer droughts, heavy rains from "atmospheric rivers," storm surges, coastal flooding, wind storms and ocean acidification as the leading emergency threats now through 2050 -- click on each of those links for relatively recent BC evidence. Personally in my time in Sooke, I think back to this + this + this. Needs saying again that none but the most hardcore denialists remain willfully ignorant; 88 percent of Canadians, in fact, now view man-made climate change as either a major (62%) or minor (26%) crisis -- an "existential" one that deepens unpredictably as the anthropocene and the "sixth extinction" kick in hard. Cue grief in five-stages as the essential prelude to personal and collective action. I'm now reading Kim Stanley Robinson's recent novel The Ministry for the Future for a harrowing yet hopeful science-based take on what realistically might lie ahead.)
2. Territorial Analysis of Local Government Priorities for Climate Action (a 2020 report from the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities that documents the many and various climate A&M initiatives being undertaken by the AVICC membership -- 11 regional districts, 89 First Nation governments, and 41 municipalities, Sooke included. More on the report here. Following its release, three Van Isle mayors -- Tofino's Josie Osborne (now BC's Minister of Municipal Affairs), Victoria's Lisa Helps and Duncan's Michelle Staples -- convened an AVICC summit late last year that was attended by 150+ elected officials and local government staff. The just-released result is a draft regional Climate Action Goals plan "that will catalyze climate mitigation and adaptation projects and activities throughout the coastal region." With its ten priorities rooted in social equity and climate justice, It's a frankly amazing #2021 document that logically must be added to the A&M Strategy reference pile as another navigational north star for council, staff and all committees.)
3. Modernizing BC's Emergency Management Legislation (sparked by the record BC wildlife and flooding seasons in 2017/18, it aligns the province's Emergency Program Act with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The latter was a United Nations initiative in the wake of the 2011 tsunami which so devastated Sendai itself as well as Sooke's friendship city, Natori. Canada and 186 other countries promptly adopted the framework. In 2018, BC was the first Canadian province to follow suit in making what Solicitor General Mike Farnworth termed a "shift from focusing on emergency preparedness and response to recognizing that risk identification and mitigation are key to managing hazards and reducing the impact of events.")
4. UBCM Special Committee on Climate Action Proposed Recommendations Draft Report (prepared last year under Mayor Tait's watch and featuring six "signature initiatives" that the Union of BC Municipalities intend to push at provincial and federal levels. These focus on buildings (increased emphasis on retrofits of older buildings, workforce training, mass timber); transportation (dramatically expanded EV charging infrastructure at residential, workplace and community levels); waste management (producer stewardship, landfill gas capture, organics diversion); resilience (funding to allow all BC local governments to create A&M plans by 2030); governance (renew the 2008 Climate Action Charter, revitalize the BC Climate Action Toolkit); and social mobilization (spurring household behavioural change through a trial program involving 10 select BC communities staging friendly neighbourhood climate-action competitions -- a more sophisticated version of this Victoria-area example, i imagine. Question to ponder: Might #Sooke be one of these ten?).
Along with the District's Climate Energy and Emissions Plan, these four docs are effectively the seeds and mulch from which a Sooke climate plan will grow. (Heavens, I know all this is complicated and likely too much for all but the nerdiest, yet this puzzle has many pieces and new, improved ones are being added continually. These reports capture BC's latest, sharpest, most informed governmental thinking, planning and actions.)
Climate Action Committee 2019/20 Legacy
The previous committee's lasting achievement is its Work Plan, received and endorsed by council 24 hours after the summer solstice last year (June 22 agenda, pp. 69-76). It leads off with two "global goals" that reiterate and seek to formalize current District practices and council's Strat Plan intentions. Here they are as amended later last fall:
1. "Ensure a 'climate first' approach in all municipal decision-making and planning processes, including the Official Community Plan, and the inclusion of climate expertise on consulting teams" (The first part of this ask seeks to formalize established practices by already "woke" -- hey, first time I've ever used that phrase! -- District staff and the progressive consultants hired for our latest suite of planning documents. As for climate consultancy know-how, that ask was already reflected in a new DOS approach that ensures a diverse spectrum of community interests and expertise is represented on committees. CAO McInnis is now figuring out how to formalize this climate-first approach at the District.)
2. "Develop a comprehensive Sooke Climate Action Plan which will include mitigation and adaptation strategies" (A restatement and expansion on climate-action objective #1 from council's Strat Plan, now the "next" priority in our latest six-month plan update.)
The CAC20 Work Plan also made a series of recommendations re: food security, transportation, education & engagement, and sustainable development & land use. Council asked staff to report back with a "how, who, when and how much" analysis. The reply came on Oct. 13 (pp. 105-122; council's discussion is recorded in the minutes here on pp. 66-68). A revised Work Plan was presented two weeks later (Oct. 26; pp. 33 onwards; minutes from that discussion here.)
October 26 proved to be a significant evening for Sooke's commitment to climate action: Council endorsed the amended global goals; directed the addition of climate action elements to the CED Committee's mandate; and approved "staff’s recommendations provided in the CAC Workplan for inclusion in the 2021-2025 Five-year Financial Plan process." (We also endorsed the final Parks and Transportation Master Plans, two documents packed with climate-first, Sooke Smart Growth initiatives that "can help reduce GHG emissions by replacing vehicular trips with other transportation modes.")
Here's a point-form summary of CAC20's four Work Plan priority areas to be addressed this year and beyond:
- Collaborate with the T'Sou-ke First Nation (ongoing)
- Review, adopt and initiate the 2012 Agricultural Plan (Corporate Services & Planning, 2021)
- Work with the ALC to support development of farm villages (Planning, advocacy, 2021)
- Identify regulatory barriers to small farm viability (Planning, 2021)
- Support establishment of a local South Island abattoir (South Island Prosperity Project, 2021)
- Support formation of a Food Policy Council and the adoption of a Food Charter (Council, 2021)
- Post-OCP update, create a Food Systems Plan ($50k, for budget consideration in 2023; CEDC and SRCHN)
- Initiate a feasibility study for a Food Hub ($50k, for budget consideration in 2024; CEDC and SRCHN)
- Participate in a regional food strategy (Capital Regional District; ongoing)
- Pursue grants and advocate for greener local transportation routes and trails (Council, staff; ongoing)
- EV and e-bike incentives promotion + current baseline #Sooke numbers for each mode (Staff, ongoing)
- Charging infrastructure in new buildings, in the commercial core and at Park'n Rides (potential addition to new Zoning Bylaw, 2022; Esquimalt provides a recent example)
- Fast chargers at municipal facilities (Engineering; $100k, for budget consideration in 2023)
- Advocacy with BC Transit for implementation of the Sooke Local Area Transit Plan (Council and staff, ongoing)
- DOS spending on transit infrastructure as per Transportation Master Plan ($200k ongoing)
- Encourage ridesharing programs (Planning, Parks, Communications, 2022)
- Budgeting for an interconnected network of sidewalks, bike and pedestrian trails leading to the town centre, schools and parks (as identified in both masterplans + a "10-minute walkable" focus of the OCP review; $11.3m, 2021-31)
- Improved bike ways to Park'n Ride locations ($20m, for budget consideration in period 2025-30, advocacy with MOTI)
- Secure bike lanes along Hwy #14 on both sides of town (Council & staff advocacy to MOTI, ongoing)
- Effective oversight of transportation priorities within OCP review process (Planning, 2021/22)
- 10-year update/review of masterplans (Operations, 2031)
Engagement & Education
- Community out-reach aligned with recommendations in the Community Energy and Emissions Plan + promotion of climate action incentives (CAO, Parks & Communications, ongoing + $20k budget item in 2022?)
- "Support, celebrate, highlight and encourage climate action by community groups, citizens and the District." (CAO, Parks, Communications & Sooke Program of the Arts Committee + $10k budget item in 2022?)
- Support climate leadership and resilience among Sooke youth & include them in consultations (policy, ongoing)
Development & Land Use
- Encourage switch from oil & gas heating to air-source heat pumps (Building Dept., ongoing)
- Promote building energy efficient rebate programs (Communications, ongoing)
- Add the BC Energy Step Code to Sooke's new Building Bylaw (Step 3 starting point for residential and retail buildings less than three storeys, bylaw adopted on Feb. 9)
- Ensure densification only occurs in the Town Centre and areas with necessary infrastructure (OCP, 2021)
- Develop tree management bylaw that recognizes trees as a carbon sink (Parks & Planning, 2021)
- Urban Forest Management Plan (Campbell River example; $50k consultant; for budget consideration in 2022)
- Valuation tool for ecosystem integrity (aka natural assets management; Gibsons example) (Parks & Planning, 2022)
- Introduction of permits for land clearing activities (Parks & Planning, 2022)
The story continues at the Nov. 9 council meeting. Terms of Reference for the new Community Economic Development and Land Use & Development committees were introduced and seats were ensured on each for a member of the "Environmental/Climate Change Community."
As the staff report stated that night: "The CEDC terms of reference now include climate change mitigation and adaptation elements within a triple bottom line (environment, economy and social determinants) approach to community development ... During this review, staff noted that the Climate Action Committee (CAC) member appointments expire on December 1, 2020. Staff request that Council consider the role of the CAC as the committee has been successful in fulfilling its mandate now that the CAC work plan has been adopted by Council and directed for implementation into staff work plans. As Council has directed climate action elements to be incorporated into the terms of reference for the Community Economic Development Committee, this seems timely.
The committee's work has developed a cohesive work plan which will be utilized in upcoming years to address climate-related issues. The CEDC will use the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Special Committee on Climate Action Proposed Recommendations as the framework for mitigation efforts, and the Province of British Columbia Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment as the framework for our adaptation efforts."
Council decided on Nov. 9 to renew the life of the CAC for one more year, not least so that its members can assist the CEDC in finding its climate-action feet. It also amended the CEDC's mandate to include the following:
* Identify opportunities and make recommendations on innovative projects to help achieve carbon neutrality.
* Provide a local perspective on climate change mitigation and adaptation while considering the balance between economic, environmental and social aspects.
* Communicate and develop relationships with organizations beyond the District of Sooke to exchange ideas, experiences, plans and successes.
(Climate action, to repeat, is a necessary part of any CED group worthy of the name. The City of Surrey's Community Climate Action Strategy, for instance, states that climate-first initiatives "will lead to a range of community benefits beyond reduced emissions and energy use, including economic development, community health and wellness, affordability and liveability.")
CAC21: What's Next
The new committee had its first Zoom meeting last month. Everyone introduced themselves, heard a likely befuddling variation (on my part, at least) of what I've shared above, revealed their respective interests, and began thinking about what they will want to tackle in the short year ahead. Under the guidance of Chair Bernie Klassen, we'll fine-tune the process and our respective roles on Feb. 23.
One potential direction that particularly excites me is the "education and engagement" component of the CAC Work Plan. Inspiring Sooke residents to take (further in many cases) personal responsibility for carbon reduction was the "meta focus" of the previous committee. We have educational expertise on this new one that positions CAC21 to deliver some smart, actionable recommendations on how the District can (perhaps in league with community groups) promote accelerated behavioural change.
Sooke's Community Energy and Emissions Plan features a list of “potential community engagement opportunities” led by steady, ongoing promotion of any current rebate and incentive programs offered by BC Hydro, FortisBC, CleanBC's Better Homes Program, Plug in BC and others. This was the top priority dictated by council when the CEEP was endorsed in 2014. Now the District's newly established Communications department has started to share the latest rebate info again and will continue doing so along with all else it delivers.
Other CEEP recommended actions (some already ticked off in the CAC Work Plan) include:
* education for builders (a "green check-list" for new developments)
* promotion of BC's Wood Stove Exchange and the PowerSmart for Schools programs
* zero waste initiatives (swaps, share sheds, free-store for unwanted goods, backyard composting promotion, yard-waste and building materials depot)
* community energy cooperatives
* secure bike lock-ups and sheltered parking spots
* transit mode-shift promotion (focused on “major employers")
* ride-sharing programs
* EV infrastructure and incentives
* and, in the broadest sense, “long-term deep community engagement (culture change)”
On that last subject, Item 8.5, pg. 43, reads: "Engage residents in developing and implementing climate solutions through collective, ‘bottom-up,’ informal, organizational and institutional initiatives ... People need information, a realistic assessment of the threat or diagnosis, a sense of personal control over their circumstances, a clear goal, an understanding of the strategies to reach that goal, a sense of support, and frequent feedback that allows them to see that they are moving in the right direction.” (Annual GHG progress reports rather than once per decade would seem essential.)
There are no end of examples on how to talk climate with the public. I think fondly of Rick's Mercer's One-Tonne Challenge, launched by Paul Martin's government and scrapped unceremoniously upon Stephen Harper's election in 2006.
Close to hand and fresh right now, our near-neighbour the District of Saanich is lauded for its climate action, especially since partnering with the BC Sustainable Energy Association on the 100% Renewable By 2050 campaign five years ago. In 2020, Saanich released its celebrated Climate Action Plan and has been rolling out citizen engagement tools such as the following:
- Saanich Residents’ Climate Action Handbook (household guide intended for all ages) "A very very simple tool for the public to be able to use at home, chatting with kids, coffee conversations within your bubble. Online tool takes you to our carbon calculator. Helps identify some actions you can take with support from your municipality while reducing your carbon footprint.” ~ Saanich Sustainability Manager Rebecca Newlove speaking at the recent Local Government Leadership Academy virtual conference
- Saanich Climate Champions Program (climate declaration signable by residents + photo & video spotlights on citizens doing good things)
Might we do something similar or entirely our own #Sooke variation on a theme? "Climate action/emergency preparedness neighbourhood pods" of citizens inspiring each other onwards is one of the fine ideas I heard at our first CAC21 meeting. (thank you Elizabeth Lange, who's part of just such a pod in the Whiffin Spit area.) Initiatives exactly like that could be part of Sooke's pitch in becoming one of the UBCM's aforementioned social-mobilization trial communities (if and when that proposed program takes fight.)
Whatever directions CAC21 takes, I hope/trust all work will be assembled into a single document that can go forward to council at year's end -- a substantial, understandably unpolished, yet also bold, creative, best-contemporary-practice draft of the A&M Strategy/Climate Action Plan this community needs.
(Revisiting, updating and repurposing the Sooke Sustainable Development Strategy, which with growing familiarity I now view as one of Sooke's very best planning documents, and borrowing passages freely from others in the District's substantial library of same, might be the most direct and effective way to do this.)
~ District of Sooke Climate Action website page (updated Feb. 2021)
~ Sooke Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP, 2014)
~ BC Climate Action Charter (2008), to which Sooke and all BC municipalities are signatories
~ Sooke Climate Emergency Declaration (passed unanimously by council on April 8, 2019)
~ Parks and Trails Master Plan
~ Transportation Master Plan
~ OCP Interim Engagement Summary (Feb. 2021, one of eight themes heard from the public in the Official Community Plan review so far is "the need to develop the OCP through the lenses of compassion and climate action.")
~ "Sooke's Innovative Town Centre Takes Shape" (BC Climate Action Toolklt, 2010)
~ CleanBC (2018)
~ BC Climate Action Toolkit +
~ Canada's Climate Plan (2020)
~ The Paris Agreement
~ UN Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C (final report)
~ UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity (1m species threatened with extinction)
~ NASA website: Global Climate Change ~ Vital Signs of the Planet (evidence)
~ The Royal Society - Climate Change Evidence and Causes
~ Climate Atlas of Canada - Climate Change: The Basics
~ "The last five years were the hottest ever recorded" ~ National Geographic
Image below from the Sooke Official Community Plan preliminary Background Research Report, pg. 36. Its next page features a detailed breakdown of all local carbon emissions.
"As part of the (Sooke) OCP review and update process, our team is seeking opportunities to adopt a ‘climate lens’ throughout both engagement and policy development. Sustainability Solutions Group will review the CRD’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Study that includes Sooke’s emissions profile, community input from the OCP engagement process, and industry best practices, to provide recommendations for climate mitigation and adaptation. SSG can do a high level GHG calculation (not modelling) that will help inform target setting and low-carbon actions determination, which will be based on Sooke’s GHG emissions inventory and experience working in comparable municipalities. This will be used as a guide for target setting and policy development."
Also from this blog: Climate Changes (May, 2019)