Expect the District to accelerate emissions reductions plans now that it is getting a grant from the provincial government. A new BC Hydro fast charging station in town is a visible effort at encouraging people to reduce fossil fuel use. (BC Hydro photo/Houston Today)

Expect the District to accelerate emissions reductions plans now that it is getting a grant from the provincial government. A new BC Hydro fast charging station in town is a visible effort at encouraging people to reduce fossil fuel use. (BC Hydro photo/Houston Today)

District to beef up emissions reductions plan

Provincial subsidy will help with planning costs

District of Houston staffers are now turning their attention to what the municipality can do to reduce emissions and to prepare the community for climate change now that it is getting money from the province to come up with a plan.

Beginning this year, the District will get $63,082 a year for at least the next three years to help meet a provincial government goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

In the past the District received, on average, between $8,000 and $12,000 in annual rebates from the carbon tax it paid in return for an annual report on fossil fuel use and climate action activities.

“Staff are familiarizing themselves with the new program and reporting requirements in order to provide Council with guidance on implementing local climate action goals and strategies to fulfil the District’s commitment to this program,” said District finance director Jennifer Larson in a memo to council.

This would not be the first time the District has signed onto a provincial initiative regarding climate change.

In 2009 it signed the B.C. Climate Action Charter acknowledging green house gas effects.

That also meant the District had to agree to develop strategies and take actions to becoming carbon neutral by 2012.

Data supplied to council for its consideration showed that the most recent information for B.C. is from 2019, showing emissions rose slightly.

Fuel burned for transportation made up 39 per cent of the province’s emissions in 2019, up from 22 per cent as of 2007.

Heavy vehicles were responsible for most of that increase at 29 per cent growth but passenger vehicle emissions also grew by 14 per cent from 2007 to 2019.

Buildings and communities were responsible for 21 per cent of emissions of total emissions, a drop of 12 per cent from 2007.

This category includes solid waste disposal and industrial wood waste disposal.

Not part of the District of Houston’s emissions reduction plan is a proposal presented last year by the provincial government that would have provided an immediate grant in return to commiting to buying an electric pick up truck by 2025.

The grant would have been for $10,000 and would have gone to reducing the cost of installing vehicle tracking software in the District’s vehicles.

The prospect of a provincial subsidy to purchase an EV pick up came from the province’s Go Electric Fleets program, one of a suite of programs and incentives from the province designed to encourage people, businesses and public sector bodies to buy electric vehicles.

As it is, the District has committed $10,000 to help with the financing of two Level 2 charging stations that are part of a province-wide program and, separately, BC Hydro now has a Level 3 charging station in Houston.