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Vote shores up climate action reserve fund

City faces declining reimbursements as it improves energy efficiency
June 21, 2016 4:44 P.M.
A new energy-efficient system for ice resurfacing at Brock Arena was approved Tuesday.

City council voted to adopt a strategy Tuesday to ensure the long-term viability of its climate action reserve fund.

The unanimous decision came after staff explained a Catch-22 situation confronting its ongoing efforts to reduce within its own operations emissions that contributes to climate warming.

In other words, the more energy efficiencies that are achieved, the less the City will be reimbursed from the B.C. Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program and the less it will have to pursue further reductions.

Glen Cheetham, sustainability services supervisor for the City, outlined to council Tuesday the results of efforts to reduce its output of the emissions, a contributor to climate warming.

As a participant in CARIP, which provides funding to local governments equivalent to the carbon taxes they pay. A condition of eligibility for funding is that the City monitor and publicly report its emissions as well as actions to reduce them.

Cheetham said City’s emissions for 2015 totalled 8,029 tonnes of carbon  dioxide equivalent output, down 4.3 percent from the previous year. This amounts to $213,000 the City can claim from the program, adding to its climate action reserve fund, which now stands at more than $900,000.

A decrease in natural gas emissions from civic facilities accounts for the drop, Cheetham said.

Since 2007, when the City signed onto CARIP, its emissions have dropped 5.6 percent overall. Since 2010, the City has received $1.2 million for its initiatives.

However, CARIP contributions to the City of Kamloops will inevitably decline in future.

“It is recognized that Climate Action Fund money is invested in projects that improve the efficiency of our buildings and operations, the resulting energy savings will reduce the amount of the City’s reimbursements,” since they are directly proportional to reduced fuel consumptions, Cheetham said.

“The concern is that as we continue to improve our energy efficiency it will become increasingly challenging and costly to implement ongoing efficiency measures that will be required to meet the targets of the Sustainable Kamloops Plan.”

To ensure this doesn’t happen, the City’s sustainability advisory committee recommended that the climate action fund be maintained at a minimum of $225,000 per year. CARIP will continue to be the major funding source with any shortfall topped up by general tax revenue or other revenue sources as directed by council.

Council also agreed to draw on the reserve fund for two new initiatives. One is a REALice system at Brock Arena with a price-tag of $38,000. That will significantly reduce consumption of natural gas and electricity used for ice resurfacing, resulting in annual cost savings of $16,000 and 26 fewer tonnes in emissions.

"We picked Brock because it is a year-round facility and we feel it has the best application to pilot the new technology," Cheetham said.

Another initiative, costing $39,600, will maintain the City’s energy management information system.

While the City has made measurable progress in cutting its civic greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction remains a fraction of the long-term target of 45 percent set out in the Sustainable Kamloops Plan.

"We're at 5.6 percent in 2016, so we're not on target, but we're going in the right direction," Cheetham said.

As well, the City doesn’t include vehicle emissions in its energy management system, a source of greenhouse gases that has increased significantly in recent years due to the growth of the fleet since 2007.

"We're on the cusp of some pretty good programs with our fleet," Cheetham said. 

That includes anti-idling restrictions for the fleet that precede the introduction of anti-idling rules for the public, expected later this year.

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