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New goals set to reduce city’s gas emissions

Ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Nanaimo are being revisited after it became clear the goals were impossible to achieve.

Andrew Tucker, the city’s director of planning, said previous energy emissions plans, while adopted by city council with good intentions and encouraged by the province, are not reachable.

“Amendments to the OCP [Official Community Plan] were made in 2010 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020 and reduce those further by 80 per cent by 2050,” said Tucker. “Those were very aggressive goals, provincial goals at the time, and, admittedly, were aspirational goals.”

Instead, the goals have been reset to reduce emissions by three per cent below 2007 levels by 2020, and 39 per cent by 2050.

To show its ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, which are also pillars in the city’s official community plan and the recently adopted corporate strategic plan, city council adopted its latest effort Monday, the Community Sustainability Action Plan, a plan Tucker called several years in the making.

This latest attempt to reduce emissions will encourage the city to work with major employers, development industry, the Regional District of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island University, Vancouver Island Health Authority and other stakeholders to reduce emissions in facilities not owned by the municipality (the city is obligated under a different program to reduce greenhouse gases).

In September 2007, in accordance with provincial emissions reduction goals, city council adopted the Corporate Energy Emissions Plan, which took a close look at what the city generates in greenhouse gases and to explore what can be done to mitigate those emissions and perhaps save money.

In 2008, the province then passed Bill 27, and each community in B.C. was asked to set target levels to reduce greenhouse gases according to their official community plans and to help the province reach its own goals. Since then, 35 B.C. municipalities have undergone energy audits, and virtually all of them have been forced to lower their targets.

According to Tucker, the Community Sustainability Action Plan sets out a framework to ensure the new goals are met. By working with community partners, sectors like land use and transportation, buildings, energy and solid waste will be reduced through a variety of tools, including financial, non-financial, education and regulation approaches.

Coun. Jim Kipp said the new plan is more realistic.

“This will cause some concerns for people but things are changing dynamically,” said Kipp. “What we tried to achieve before is almost impossible to get to those levels. I think this is a good step forward.”

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