ELECTING A CLIMATE-LITERATE COUNCIL
On October 15, vote for leaders who understand climate change – the science, the impacts, the urgency and the solutions – and are committed to rapid action.
Use the information below to brush up on what other communities are doing, and what we can and should be doing here in Maple Ridge.
Then find out which candidates will commit to action. There's a lot at stake, so get informed and be sure to VOTE!
Why climate matters
In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued an alarming warning to the world. We must limit global warming to 1.5o degrees C above pre-industrial levels, or risk catastrophic natural disaster.
The world has already moved past 1o degree C and the need to reverse this trend is urgent. Already we are experiencing what the scientists predicted: deadly heat waves, catastrophic flooding, extreme drought, uncontrollable forest fires.
Canadians burn more fossil fuels per capita than any other OECD country. But we can and must reverse this trend. We can create a future where the way we move, how we heat and cool our homes, and how we work and play are emissions-free, equitable and in harmony with nature.
Municipal governments are at the forefront of this change.
THIS OCTOBER, VOTE FOR THE CLIMATE
Find out what each candidate has to say about their commitment to climate action. Visit their websites, give them a call, send them an email, go to events.
Where do our GHGs come from?
Metro Vancouver has analysed the sources of GHG emissions throughout the region. With very little industry in Maple Ridge, it is easy to see that the majority of GHG pollution in this community comes from motor vehicles and buildings.
How can we meet our targets?
The great news is that there are many ways municipal politicians and administrators can reduce local emissions.
Heat pumps for new homes
When a fossil-fuel burning furnace is installed in a new home, it will be a serious emitter of GHGs for many years to come.
Electric heat pumps are an amazingly efficient replacement for gas or oil furnaces. And with our increasingly hot summers, heat pumps have the added advantage of acting as an air conditioner during the warm months.
The minimal additional cost for a heat pump is more than offset by the reduced cost of home heating and the added benefit of a cooling system for the homeowner.
New housing must be required to install a clean alternative to gas-fired furnaces for heating.
Retrofits for existing housing stock
The majority of existing homes in Maple Ridge are heated with gas furnaces, and these must be replaced with heat pumps.
CleanBC and the Canada Greener Homes programs offer rebates to homeowners for the purchase and installation of a heat pump if it replaces a fossil-fuel-burning furnace. Many municipalities, such as the City of North Vancouver, Saanich, Squamish, Kamloops and Vancouver (among others), recognize the importance of accelerating the switch away from fossil fuel furnaces and are offering additional incentives.
Added incentives for heat pumps are something Maple Ridge should provide.
In spite of the rebates, purchasing and installing a new heat pump can be expensive. The provincial government is developing a policy framework that will allow municipalities to introduce PACE - Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. PACE loans are arranged through the municipality (though the debt is carried by a cooperating financial institution) and repaid through an addition to property tax bills. The loans are transferred from one owner to the next when a property is sold.
The City should work with the province to accelerate enabling legislation for PACE financing.
In addition to the expense, the process of identifying a qualified installer, selecting a quality unit and system design, locating the available incentives, and arranging financing, can be complicated and time consuming. The municipalities of Squamish and Whistler are participating in a pilot program called Retrofit Assist that helps homeowners through each step. The goal of the pilot is to mirror the annual heating system replacement rate of 6% and help the two communities reach their building-related GHG emission targets by 2030. The Community Energy Association, the organization running the pilot, will open the program to new communities this fall.
The City should participate in the next intake of the Retrofit Assist program.
The BC Energy Step Code is designed to reduce emissions from new construction, and create buildings that use less energy to heat and cool. By using less energy, a building reduces the demand on BC’s clean hydro electricity system.
Maple Ridge is lagging behind many municipalities in adopting the BC Energy Step Code. And every new building that is built to lower standards commits us to higher emissions during construction, and higher energy demands over the 70+ years of its lifetime.
However, one of the important early steps – to consult with the development community – has already been taken. This puts Maple Ridge in a position to launch the lower levels of the Step Code right away.
We suggest implementing the Energy Step Code as soon as possible, adopting the following timeline that is drawn from the Energy Step Code Council (ESCC) recommendations and requirements.
January 2023: Give notice to ESCC (requirement: 6 months)
Adopt Step 3 for Part 9 buildings (houses and small buildings)
Adopt Step 2 for Part 3 buildings (large and complex buildings)
Require home energy labelling
Provide notice that higher steps will be required by 2025
Provide incentives for voluntary adoption of higher steps 2023 – 2025.
2024: Give notice for next steps (required by ESCC - 1 year for higher steps)
2025: Step 4 for Part 9 buildings; Step 3 for Part 3
2026: Give notice for next steps
2027: Step 5 for Part 9 buildings; Step 4 for Part 3
Emissions from gas- or diesel-fueled cars and trucks are the largest source of GHG pollution in our municipality. To reduce emissions we need to switch to electric vehicles, and we need to drive less. (A large percentage of the lifetime emissions of a vehicle is “embodied emissions,” released as part of manufacturing and shipping).
The city's STP – opportunity for ambition
The City is in the final stages of refreshing its Strategic Transportation Plan (STP).
One of the most startling facts relayed by the consultant for the new STP is that a majority of trips that begin in Maple Ridge go a distance of 5 km or less. This is a distance that could easily be covered on foot or by bike, e-mobility or transit, if we had the right infrastructure in place.
The draft STP has identified high priority enhancements to pedestrian, cycling and e-mobility infrastructure. The reports make it clear that the deficiencies in these facilities impedes residents’ ability and willingness to get out of their cars, due to lack of convenience and concerns about safety.
Sustainable transportation – setting goals
What is missing from the STP reports is a clearly stated goal for reducing trips by car. This type of objective is part of the climate action plans of many communities, such as:
Port Moody: Residents walk, cycle or take transit for 40% of trips by 2030 (up from 17% in 2017)
New Westminster: 60% of all trips within the city to be made by sustainable modes of transportation (walk, transit, bike, multi-occupant shared) by 2030. (Currently, 40% of trips are by sustainable modes.)
Victoria: By 2030, 25 percent of all trips by Victoria residents are taken by public transportation, and; by 2030, Victoria residents choose walking and cycling for 55 percent of all trips.
Building for EVs and bikes
To support the switch to electric vehicles and different transportation modes, we need to ensure buildings are designed with the necessary charging infrastructure for cars as well as amenities for bicycles. These requirements are starting to make their way into area plans and design guidelines, but they should be non-negotiable, and they should be embedded in the planning policies immediately.
Enabling actions - a checklist
To reduce the number of trips taken by gas-powered vehicles in Maple Ridge, the City should:
Establish clear goals for increasing the percentage of trips taken by sustainable transportation modes (walking, biking, e-mobility and transit).
Accelerate implementation of STP recommendations for pedestrian, cycling and e-mobility facilities and infrastructure.
Require all new buildings to provide electric charging infrastructure that is plug-in ready.
Require all new buildings to provide significant infrastructure and amenities for cyclists, including secure parking and electric charging. Commercial buildings should also provide areas for employees who cycle to work to change after their commute.
A HOLISTIC ACTION PLAN
Many communities have created action plans complete with goals, targets and supporting actions. Typically these plans are developed with extensive public input, which is crucial for ensuring that residents contribute to designing the transformational changes that are needed.
Some excellent examples of community climate action plans:
The City of Maple Ridge must create an overarching climate action plan, with specific goals and targets, carried out in an integrated manner by each City department.
Each department has a role to play
Planning must incorporate sound climate mitigation and adaptation principles in their area plans and development guidelines.
Economic Development must consider how best to support remote workers, and how to incentivize a broad range of clean-energy, low-emission businesses.
Communications & Public Engagement must prepare to support ongoing public engagement to incorporate the perspectives of city residents and gain support for the changes that are needed.
Parks & Recreation must work with Planning to provide adequate access to green space for the mental and physical wellbeing of city residents living in areas with higher density.
Corporate Planning must ensure climate impacts are included in every report to Council.
Finance must include the costs of the impacts of climate change in their accounting.
Procurement must establish policies to ensure goods and services carry the lowest emissions possible.
Engineering must prioritize and accelerate active transportation infrastructure delivery.
Environmental Services must accelerate work on the Green Infrastructure strategy, to ensure our tree canopy and other natural assets are properly assessed for the valuable services they provide to our city, and to protect and enhance these invaluable assets.