Follow the money: Supporting the CCAP with realistic funding

UPDATE: We did it! Kamloops City Council voted to approve the staff proposal to provide funding for the Community Climate Action Plan on April 5, 2022. Thanks to everyone who attended a meeting to speak up for climate action funding, contacted Councillors individually, or expressed support online — some councillors were waffling, and your actions made a difference!

In my experience working amidst faith communities, secular non-profits and with persons of all sorts and conditions the rule remains true: Money talks; money speaks to priorities; talk is cheap; real fiscal commitment makes things happen; and there must be sacrifice.

With the adoption of the Kamloops Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) in June 2021 the stage is set for real change in the behaviour of local government and citizens of the Thompson Rivers Valley. If there is no behavioural change, then nothing will in fact change. I use the identifier Thompson Rivers Valley intentionally, for if our behaviour as individuals and as a community does not change, the rivers will change, as will the mountains, the flat lands, the highways, the forests, all non-human species, the cities, villages and towns. The life we live and love here will change permanently and irreversibly—the climate will be hotter, dryer, more extreme, unseasonal, difficult and unpleasant. The effects already surround us, especially since the wildfires of 2017, through last year’s heat domes and the provincewide torrential rains, damaged infrastructure, and in the case of Lytton, community annihilation with Merritt not far behind.

Speaking of the costs of community destruction, look no further than Abbotsford, a city slightly larger than Kamloops (150,000) which now faces a grim financial challenge: Flood-recovery costs could hit $120M, with future dike upgrades presently estimated at $3B. Do you remember the Fram Oil Filter Man: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” Abbotsford is paying later, now, big time; Kamloops risks a similar costly scenario.

The supplemental cost proposals before the city will be discussed at an open forum at an In-Person (!!) Public Engagement Session – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm on Thursday March 10 in the Sports Centre Lounge at McArthur Island Sports and Events Centre. This important conversation represents two hours for our collective future. It’s really important, so please, please show up and speak. And please speak to initiative #5, Community Climate Action Plan Funding Strategy.

There are so many great initiatives on the list of twelve; every single one however is predicated on the CCAP which in order to become more than words on a pretty page requires a robust and urgent funding strategy. With climate out of control, with insufficient mitigation applied and fiscal resources supplied, all other initiatives cannot occur for any significant amount of time. The cost is specified: $444,000 in 2022 increasing to $4.4 million annually by 2026. This proposal would be funded primarily through taxation and would increase current 2022 taxation projections by 0.35%. I do invite staff to comment on the 0.35% amount; it seems dangerously low to me personally. A report prepared by Lord Stern in the UK on the Economics of Climate Change on 30 October 2006 concludes that “the benefits of strong, early action on climate change far outweigh the costs of not acting.” Remember the Fram Oil Filter Man.

Finally, some specifics. In the CCAP BIG MOVE 1: LOW-CARBON DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY high priority initiatives include the following:

1A – Ten-Minute City

  • support infill projects that further increase housing density, mixed uses, and access to transit and active transportation infrastructure in existing neighbourhood centres
  • Increase incentives to promote infill development
  • Increase availability of affordable market housing options that also contribute to higher density

1C – Green New Neighbourhoods

  • Require developers to meet a higher BC Energy Step
    Require developers to install one charging station (capable of Level 2 charging) for every two stalls of off-street parking in single-family developments, in addition to any city-wide EV-ready policy. DONE
  • Increase DCCs for developments in peripheral areas (suburban and rural) to address the costs of required service upgrades or extensions.
  • Explore regulatory options to limit new natural gas servicing in favour of all-electric power and/or on-site renewable energy.

There are necessary costs associated with each of these. Are these costs necessary? Well only if we want things to in fact change. Otherwise we play a game of roulette with our future and that of our descendants. That’s a gamble I continue to refuse. Please join me this Thursday, March 10 at MacArthur Island Sports Lounge. In such conversations numbers matter, in every respect.

Ken Gray

Photo credit: Ken Gray

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