Dear Editor,

Temperatures are on the rise. Here in the East Kootenay, smoky summers are the new normal and glaciers are melting at an alarming speed.

We need to act, yet we often think that the solutions lie with the province, the federal government, the U.S. or China. In fact, we can do a lot locally, with local governments as leaders and partners in taking climate action to mitigate climate change as well as build resilient communities.

For communities like ours in the East Kootenay, most of our emissions come from buildings and transportation. There are a lot of things that local governments can do to reduce those emissions. Here are a few:

  1. Make our communities more bike and pedestrian-friendly with bike lanes, secure parking, more crosswalks, and downtown blocks open to pedestrians only.
  2. Change zoning to increase density: more dwellings/lot, smaller setbacks, higher elevations allowed, and less on-site parking. These changes also aid affordability.
  3. Examine public transportation to look at on-demand services and/or electric buses.
  4. Advance building Step Codes more quickly so that more energy-efficient homes are built.
  5. Increase number of electric chargers downtown, on street light poles and city parking lots.
  6. Reduce speed limits in residential areas.
  7. Do energy audits on all public buildings and develop plans to make them all emissions-free and more energy efficient.
  8. All new municipal vehicles should be electric, starting 2024 wherever possible.
  9. Develop a tree program in public areas and to provide street shading. Plant one tree per resident and incentivize residents to do the same.
  10. Educate homeowners on how to reduce energy use and take advantage of the many funding opportunities available.
  11. Look at bulk buys of energy saving commodities such as insulation, low flow shower heads, solar panels and heat pumps.
  12. Consider adaptation needs such as cooling/clean air stations for the vulnerable population.
  13. Work with planning departments to encourage in-house EV charging stations, optimal house orientation for solar gains etc.

This is just a sample of the actions that will move our communities toward net zero emissions by 2050. There is a lot of work to be done as we move toward this goal. That is why our upcoming local elections on October 15, 2022 are very important for climate action. When considering candidates for councils, boards and mayors, be sure to find out where they stand on climate action, and support those who have an awareness and are committed to acting. The 2022 elections are critical for climate action – we need to act now if we are to have a habitable climate for future generations.

East Kootenay Climate Hub