By Camille Aubin
[email protected]

The District of Invermere, Village of Radium Hot Springs and Village of Canal Flats have all strived to be more “green” in recent years. For this issue’s Earth Day feature, the Pioneer asked each municipality what it’s doing to better the planet. Here are their answers.

How has the city contributed to a healthier planet through recent actions?

Radium: Installation of three electric vehicle charging stations; installation of solar panels at the community hall; ongoing program of replacement of street lighting and building lighting with energy efficient LED units; community garden program; office composting program; annual tree planting program; spring cleanups; ‘smart’ community planning initiatives and policies promoting a high density, service and energy-efficient infrastructure; and pedestrian-friendly community.

Invermere: Council consciously tries to apply an environmental “lens” to every decision it makes, big or small. The district installed solar panels on the Columbia Valley Centre (CVC) to help reduce the consumption of electricity provided by conventional sources (e.g. hydro-electricity); Invermere asked the public in the last election about banning the distribution and use of plastic bags in the community. Based on the public’s response, this is now an advocacy item for council. It is something that the provincial and federal governments may pursue. Invermere is working with the Regional District of the East Kootenay (RDEK) to build a household organics processing facility in Invermere that will be available to the entire Columbia Valley. The district is moving curbside recycling to the Recycle BC model in 2022. Invermere and the Shuswap Indian Band (SIB) have through their CEDI partnership developed an active transportation network plan. The district recently received a $1million grant from Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CEPIR) to support the development of new trails and trail improvements in the Athalmer area, including the former Lake Windermere Resort Lands. The continuous trails that the district has been building to promote a more walkable/rideable community.

Canal Flats: In Canal Flats in 2021, we have had new energy efficient windows and new solar panels installed on our village office, which greatly reduces our energy consumption and makes our village office a net producer of electricity at certain times of year. This work was paid for with a Columbia Basin Trust grant and the solar panels installed by Solar Country: a Canal Flats firm.

What are the environmental challenges faced by the city?

Radium: Climate change factors that increase wildfire risks and flooding risks; forest ingrowth leading to increased wildfire risk.

Invermere: Reducing the amount of solid waste (garbage) that is going into the landfill; water conservation; reducing the DOI’s carbon emissions.

*Editor’s note: the Pioneer was unable to reach Canal Flats on this question.

How will these challenges be resolved? 

Radium: Continuation of actions and programs detailed in question one; adoption of new ‘green’ programs and opportunities, as they arise; continuation of the FireSmart education program to promote public awareness and action regarding wildfire best practices on private property.

Invermere: The district is exploring options to move to curbside organic pick up within the next couple of years to help reduce the amount of material going into the landfill. Currently, Invermere has Stage Two water use restrictions in place, but we need to follow those actions up with additional public education on the benefits of water conservation. The district has many facilities and vehicles that it carefully monitors and maintains, in part to help reduce carbon emissions, and also to reduce municipal costs.

*Editor’s note: the Pioneer was unable to reach Canal Flats on this question.