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Climate & Energy Action awards honour carbon-busting by Cowichan councils
Carbon-busting by North Cowichan and Duncan has landed provincial awards for both municipalities.
North Cowichan's Climate Action and Energy Plan earned residents the top award of the Community Energy Association's Climate & Energy Action Awards at the Union of B.C. Municipalities' recent convention in Vancouver.
The honour falls into the association's Community Planning and Development category.
Duncan received an honourable mention in the association's Community Excellence in Leadership and Innovation slot.
That kudo toasts the city's role in the Community Carbon Marketplace Pilot Project. It saw Duncan reach carbon-neutrality in 2012.
The idea is for B.C.'s cities, towns, region, residents and businesses to cork carbon sources — such as car emissions, power use, and other carbon culprits — that jack greenhouse gases fueling global climate change.
North Cowichan's award followed council adopting its taxpayer-funded Climate Action and Energy Plan on Feb. 20.
It outlines emission reductions and energy conservation targets, plus strategies and recommendations enabling the municipality to reduce carbon emissions, conserve energy and save money during the next three decades.
Councillor Kate Marsh, chairwoman of North Cowichan's climate-action committee, explained how the sweeping plan — launched June 8 at an eco-education fair at VIU — aims to measurably conquer carbon through urban densification, community education, and other programs funded by the municipality's dedicated .5 % annual tax.
"We discovered close to 80% of (North Cowichan) emissions are from private homes and vehicles," she said of plans to use revitalization tax breaks to prod pedestrian living in Chemainus, Crofton and the University Village area.
The University Village spans North Cowichan and Duncan.
"Densification is the number-one strategy that'll help us meet our targets," Marsh said.
"People can walk two blocks for milk. Carbon emissions add up over time. We want more walkable dense communities in future."
She was proud the association "singled out" North Cowichan for its dedicated .5% tax plan that gained tons of community input about energy-saving initiatives.
"As savings are reaped, the fund will be replenished," Marsh said of the kitty holding about $112,000.
The climate-action plan is tailored to North Cowichan's energy saving goals. "It's not a cookie-cutter plan. We all have to work at this together," Marsh said.
"The committee's now looking at how to implement the plan and how we get the public engaged."
Public education about kicking carbon is key. "We're also trying to get people to sign up for online updates on events."
"Our ultimate goal is reduce our (total municipal) emissions by 33%, over 2007 carbon levels, by 2025 — and by 80% by 2050."
The city busted its carbon output through the Community Carbon Marketplace, spearheaded by the innovative Cowichan Energy Alternative Society.
Mayor Phil Kent notes, in staff's release, Duncan is the first municipality to take part in the marketplace.
It functions as a micro-exchange whereby cash is steered to valley carbon-reductionprojects in exchange for carbon credits.
Duncan council bought its taxpayers 138 units of carbon credits from the marketplace, then handed funds to Cowichan Energy Alternatives to support carbon-footprint assessments of non-profit groups, council staff says.