By Kelsey Verboom

Pioneer Staff

Wildsight and the District of Invermere are looking to make the wheels in town that go round and round greener and greener.

The environmental group is working in conjunction with the District of Invermere on a fee-for-service basis to implement the towns Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Strategy. Part of the strategy, adopted by council in 2010, is to educate the public about ways to reduce emissions. One such initiative is a program called Green Wheels, led by Wildsights Kalista Pruden.

Kalista Pruden

Green Wheels is a transportation-specific program that is working to reduce the carbon footprint of Columbia Valley drivers, with the overall goal of lowering the effects of climate change.

The goal is to shape the future of Invermeres transportation network, Ms. Pruden said. Transportation currently accounts for 83 per cent of Invermeres greenhouse gas emissions.

According to statistics from the Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (data collected by ICBC based on average kilometres driven annually, fuel type, and vehicle type), Invermeres transportation emissions total 27, 991 C02e tonnes.

In comparison, the percentage of transportation-caused emissions in Invermere is higher than communities of similar population size, like Elkford (47 per cent), Sparwood (64 per cent), and Fernie (54 per cent).

These statistics do not take into account tourism activity, summer and winter lake traffic, or the fact that Invermere is a hub for people who live in surrounding communities and commute for work.

Please understand it is really challenging to make comparisons like this, as each community has different impacts from tourism and community planning that arent taken into consideration, Ms. Pruden said.

She added that the approach for tracking the emissions is less than ideal but that until mileage is collected universally, it is the best available approach.

At an open house on November 24th, Ms. Pruden led a presentation and discussion with the 20 residents who attended about what types of initiatives Invermere could undertake to make transportation more eco-friendly.

For example, to increase the amount of active transportation the community uses [we could] create more pathways around town that are well-maintained year-round, and a place to shower downtown so that bikers/runners/walkers can have a shower before work to eliminate concerns about being sweaty and smelly for work, Ms. Pruden said.

Information from the brainstorming session will be compiled to summarize what ideas would be achievable in Invermere, she added, with a plan to highlight the top three initiatives that could be implemented quickly.

Well probably start with something like a car share or bike share, she said, citing successful programs in Nelson and Kamloops. Currently, the websites carpool.ca and kootenayrideshare.com are available for local commuters, but arent widely used locally.

For more information about the Green Wheels program or to offer suggestions, email kalista@wildsight.ca.