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The Five Most Important Climate Solutions for City Councils in BC

1. Make a Sustainable Transportation Commitment

to aim for zero-carbon local transportation by creating ‘complete streets’ designed for all users, walkable neighbourhoods, and a world-class cycling environment; and by adopting world-class policies for transportation demand management, transit, ride-sharing, car-sharing, electric vehicles and freight.

There are great examples of pedestrian streets and centres in Europe. In Copenhagen, 36% of commute and school trips are made by bike; Bogota and Curitiba have shown the way for bus rapid transport; San Diego is showing the way for electric vehicles.

2. Make a Sustainable Development Commitment

to foster and encourage the best developments and to discourage ‘big box’ out-of-town shopping centres, with zero encroachment on the Agricultural Land Reserve. Adopt urban containment boundaries, and use a Sustainable Development Checklist and Scorecard in rezoning and development permit applications, with minimum points needed before approval can be considered.

A checklist with a scorecard allows a council to ensure that all new developments embrace a high standard of sustainable design, with points for positive social, environmental, transportation and green energy features, as Port Coquitlam, Whistler, Kamloops, Nelson, UBC and Surrey are doing.

3. Make a Greenest Buildings Commitment

to lobby for provincial policies that would require all new buildings to be zero-carbon passive buildings heated by renewable energy; to give property owners floor-space incentives to make their existing buildings more energy efficient; and to plan ahead for renewable energy district heat.

In the UK, all new buildings must be zero-carbon from 2019; in California all new homes must be zero-net energy starting in 2020. In Berkeley and San Francisco, ever since 1981, every home has needed to be upgraded to the latest energy standard before it can be sold.

4. Make a Sustainable Local Economy Commitment

to oppose the growth of oil tankers, pipelines and coal exports; target zero waste by 2030; reinvest carbon tax rebates in carbon reduction projects; encourage local businesses to either sign up for Vancouver Island Green Business Certification or elsewhere in BC to join Climate Smart; promote a cradle-to-cradle circular economy, a sharing economy and the eco-tech sector; reduce energy use in all civic operations; and measure and report on progress on all five solutions annually. 

San Francisco is aiming for Zero Waste by 2020 (currently at 80%); Saanich and Dawson Creek have developed local Carbon Funds; Victoria’s Tectoria is building a booming tech sector; Vancouver’s Tool Library is pioneering the sharing economy; Vancouver has set a goal to double the number of companies that are actively engaged in greening their operations.

5. Make a Healthy Food, Healthy Nature Commitment

to protect urban trees and plant new trees; establish more parks, green spaces and community allotments; allow residents to cultivate boulevards; serve local food on city premises; allow food gardens on temporarily vacant land; encourage shared backyards and community fruit-picking; and convert Food Banks into Community Food Centres.

Vancouver’s Sole Food Farms has shown how to use empty land; the city’s boulevard gardening shows how willing people are to get involved. Seattle’s P-Patch has shown how to develop community gardens. Toronto’s The Stop has shown how to turn a Food Bank into a Community Food Centre.

How to Use the Local Climate Solutions

to get Great Candidates Elected 

1. Gather some friends, and create a Local Climate Solutions Questionnaire, asking every candidate to respond to these six questions, enabling you to rank every candidate out of 50:

 

{C}{C}a)    {C}{C}What leadership experience do you have that would justify choosing you as a Mayor or Councilor? This is an open-ended question, designed to separate serious candidates from those who lack credibility and experience.

{C}{C}b)     {C}{C} “If elected, on a scale of 0-10, how committed will you be to take concrete transportation steps to create a world-class walking and cycling environment, and to adopt world-class policies for transportation demand management, transit, ride-sharing, car-sharing and electric vehicles?”

{C}{C}c)     {C}{C}“If elected, on a scale of 0-10, how committed will you be to adopt an Urban Containment Boundary, to protect BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve, and to use a Sustainable Development Checklist and Scorecard in rezoning and development permit applications to encourage the best possible developments?”

{C}{C}d)     {C}{C}“If elected, on a scale of 0-10, how committed will you be to encourage zero carbon buildings, to encourage property owners to retrofit their buildings, and to plan ahead for district heat using renewable sources of energy?”

{C}{C}e)     {C}{C}“If elected, on a scale of 0-10, how committed will you be to develop a sustainable local economy by opposing the growth of oil tankers, pipelines and coal exports, targeting zero waste, encouraging local businesses to sign up for Vancouver Island Green Business Certification or to join Climate Smart, and to reduce energy use in all civic operations?”

{C}{C}f)     {C}{C}“If elected, on a scale of 0-10, how committed will you be to take practical steps to support local urban farming; plant more trees; develop community allotments; allow residents to cultivate their boulevards; and allow the establishment of community food gardens on temporarily vacant land?”

2. Gather support from as many social, environmental and community groups as you can. Ask if they will endorse the Questionnaire, and if yes, include their names. Be sure to approach local Dogwood Initiative organizers, who will be very active during the local elections. Create a quick and easy website so that people can see which candidates have the highest scores. www.dogwoodinitiative.org

3. Send a copy of the Questionnaire and the Five Solutions to every candidate, with a deadline for response. City Hall will have their contact details, and all serious candidates will have websites.

4. Publish the results using every way there is including radio, TV, local papers, posters and social media.

5. Persuade people to ask questions at All-Candidates Meetings, repeating the questions above.

6. Campaign for the Candidates You Want to Win. Ask to meet them, so that you can discuss the Solutions and learn how you can help.

7. Tell all your friends what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Urge them to vote for the most committed serious candidates, using every means you can.

Thanks to Mark Roseland, Colin Plant, Dean Murdoch, Adrian Carr, Cheryl Kabloona, Erik Kaye, Tom Hackney and Ben Issit for their valuable contributions.

You can download this as a two-sided sheet in the attachment immediately below