Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit report – 2017 – Updating Wed/Thurs

I am here for the VIEA Summit 2017 on behalf of Council.  I’ll be doing a report like I have done for UBCM.  It is just a two day conference with just three or four sessions that I’ll be able to attend but I have always found it to be very valuable.  Below is my schedule:

It is now 3:30PM and I’ve already had a number of great conversations with folks, from a solar installer in Nanaimo, to Sheila Malcolmsen NDP MP for Nanaimo about derelict vessels and a rep from the Coastal Community Credit Union about community funding of local agriculture!

First session I attended was on Trade and Transportation.

Here are my notes:

Keynote – Dan Tisch

Mr. Tisch spoke about the fake news phenomenon and how to manage communications with customers and clients and constituents in that new world.

He emphasized the need to create trust and how the (social) values of an organization has become extremely important to their overall reputation and success.

Openness, willingness to listen, and willingness to take and maintain principled stands will lead to success for the organization as a whole.  This is definitely something that applies to Cities as well.

VIEA Trade and Transportation Session

Short Sea Shipping –

Peter Amott – Pacific Basin

They moved log shipping (export) from Fraser port to Nanaimo because of shipping costs, delays, etc at Lower Mainland. Realized major volume increase in Nanaimo, 60 jobs.

Tabare Dominquez – DP World – Major Container Shipping (10% of world shipping). Only lift on/off (no dreyage, no trucking) on Vancouver Island for import/export to Asia.

Adam Cook – CN Rail

“Truck like service at the cost of rail” Partners with Southern Rail of VI at Annacis Island to Welcox Seaspan – BC Ferries – DP World – Steamship Lines

Alison Boulton Small Business BC – Export Navigator Pilot (also in Port Alberni through Community Futures). Facilitates communication with exporters. Export Advisor in each community…


To DP World —

Infrastructure is a significant constraint. It is fragmented.  It would be good to concentrate volume. We are ready to invest if there is more volume.

Q: Nanaimo/Alberni or Prince Rupert is place for expansion if Vancouver is maxed?
A: vancouver capacity is tight. Rupert and Island do not compete.  He sees opportunity for direct calls to the Island.


Renewable Energy Session

Solar energy installation in the world is currently at “one Site C per month”. In 10 years, world will install 1 Terawatt per year. In US, grid parity has been achieved (solar is as cheap as coal or gas) in 27 states.

Price for utility solar is now $1 per watt. Residential in US is about $2 per watt (installed). Resource on Vancouver Island is good in SE, plus Port Alberni and Comox Valley.  Maps available here.

Gave an example of Sooke first Nation for net metering (which is similar in payback to WCGH installation)

The cost needs to be below 11c/kWH to beat BC Hydro and achieve a payback.  The grah below shows the potential.  2 axis refers to the solar panels being able to track the sun horizontally and vertically.  Most installs, like WCGH are fixed (blue dots).

Nanaimo, Tofino and Comox are listed and are indicated to be just above the threshold. Port Alberni should be as well.

Renewable Natural Gas – Fortis BC

“Carbon Neutral option”. “Biogas” is injected into the conventional natural gas stream.

Take gas from landfills, farms. 200,000 GJ of NG in 2017. City of Surrey is doing a biofuel plant in 2018 that will take organics.  Will provide 120,000GJ. City of Surrey uses CNG for their garbage trucks, will potentially use RNG for their trucks will reduce their carbon footprint.

Percentage RNG – is currently 0.25% of installed capacity of traditional gas. Fortis can move up 5% or 9 petajoules per year to RNG. (How likely is this??)

VIU Allan Cumbers -Geo Exchange utilizing old Mine shafts

Water is 12°C year round.  Will be used for multiple buildings on a 3 loop system for both heating and cooling. Health and Sciences centre (being built now) will be first building.  Then Gathering Place and Building 205. Then HSC 2.  If pilot project is successful should be able to expand district system to all buildings where it makes sense to retrofit for geo-exchange.

Expect to save 320 tonnes of CO2 on first building on Phase 1, payback is 18 years.

We will be hearing from the Premier at dinner tonight. He is addressing us by video link from Victoria (due to needing to be in the Legislature for votes in the house).  Will report back tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday morning.

We started with a breakfast and keynote focusing on Earthquake preparedness and risk management and then that continued into the first session of the morning.  Here are notes from that:

  • At LA International Airport they focused on what was needed to operate. Only two things… runways and communications not buildings.  So they focused on hardening those.
  • Nothing in BC is designed to survive mega earthquake

  • Japan earthquake. Nuke damage was done by tsunami, not earthquake. The company built a 7m wall when data said it should have been 15m. Has cost Japan $1 Trillion.
  • Another nuke plant, Onagawa… undamaged. Had a 15m wall. The ground dropped in earthquake (much closer to epicnter) by 1m. Tsunami was 13.5m.  Largely undamaged and safe.

  • The risk in Vancouver Island is very high.. as high as any japan, mexico, just less frequent. Studies are often too academic.  Frequency is almost irrelevant. Focus on simple study of elevation and practical steps to harden buildings. For houses… keep them on their foundations. Bolt them down.

BC Code should be closer to Chile and California, we need to compare Canada and other codes to learn from their experience.

  • Municipalities – do a strategic risk – find the most critical pieces.
  • The building code is not always the end all be all… building code is for life saving, not business interruption. Low bidders may be life saving minimum code only… higher cost, possible business interruption which is key.

For mitigating Tsunami. Really can only build a wall (backfilled with parkland) direct the water away from downtown…. or long term plan to move people/business out of flood zone.

Film and TV Session

BC is the 3rd largest film production in North America, biggest in Canada. #1 for visual effects in the world

$2.6 Billion in production this year. $1 Billion in wages. $23 Million in wages on the Island. 50 productions on the Island, 250 filming days. Chesapeake Shores spent $5M alone. Streaming services (Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Google) will add $25 Billion to global production business.

32,000sqft of stage space in Parksville. 3-4 Million sqft of stage space in BC.  Why B.C.? -> locations. Every possible type. Episodic TV is now main source of revenue in BC.

There is no Commercial space in lower mainland. 1% vacancy. Film Commissions cannot charge fees… so are left to ask for community grants to help fund their activities.

For Film Studio space you need high ceilings,  30-40ft. Clear span no pillars. Purpose built is usually best though small productions can use smaller spaces, but are unlikely to commit long term.

Parksville is going out on a limb. Because it is a location spot, not studio.  There are numerous people on the Island and the training is key.  Need more infrastructure in terms of rentals for video and lighting and audio.  Usually if a space is built, and a long term contract found, then the rental infrastructure companies come.

Tofino was great to shoot but no hotels… so used Best Western in Port Alberni for shoots for a commercial.  Major production facilities requires 5 star hotel for the actors. So only Victoria and Vancouver currently. However, small scale commercials or TV could use production space on an interim basis.

X-Men spent $40,000 just on ferries.

Biggest takeaway is for communities to always be welcoming, not to lie or gloss over locations, and to roll with the punches.  TV Industry is extremely fast paced, last minute, and unconventional.  They respond to places that can meet their idiosyncrasies with a smile.

That’s it! It was a very quick, but very good conference.  Lots of things to take away and learn from. I’ve already sent a number of emails to a bunch of people following up about it.


My (oh my!) Mini Split Heat Pump Savings! They could be yours? :)

I just received confirmation that BC Hydro has received (by email) my application for their $800 Rebate for mini-split heat pump installs. Woot! Hopefully the cheque comes back soon. 🙂
(note the rebate is only available for mini-split not traditional heat pumps)
I could only apply for the Hydro rebate (there are a bunch!) because I got rid of my oil furnace 10 years ago when we moved into our home, but if you upgrade from an oil furnace you can apply for an extra $500 rebate from the City of Port Alberni!
The total cost was $8099.75 for the heat pump plus $163.67 for the electrical work so $8263.42 total.
It is a Fujitsu variable speed heat pump with one outdoor unit (pictured) and two indoor units.  AHRI Number 6998277.  Here is the system’s AHRI certificate.
I am super happy with the installation and the comfort level of the system compared to our electric baseboards. (or… way back when… the noisy, smelly, expensive and inefficient oil furnace!) We keep the house at a steady 20C.
The two indoor units, one larger one on the main floor and a smaller one in the basement have no trouble keeping the house (2500sqft, built 1940, EnerGuide rating 64+) warm. And both they and the outside unit are basically silent from inside the house!

We are also in the middle of replacing a roof/ceiling in our 2nd floor bathroom which means there is no insulation up there so lots of extra heat loss temporarily. (It’s chilly in there at night!).  Once that is insulated again I expect our savings to increase.

We turn the breakers off on our baseboard heaters through the summer and most of them have remained off except our two upstairs bedrooms, but those are turned down to 18C and haven’t come on yet, even with the bathroom work. 

By The Numbers

I ran some numbers comparing this time period (Oct 6-22) in 2015 and in 2016 and comparing, thanks to BC Hydro tracking average temperatures, with days of similar temperature.

I grouped days by their temperature and by year and then got an average temperature and KWh usage for that temperature for each year.

2016 is the comparable year: Average consumption since installing the system Oct 6 has been about 62% of last year: a range of between 48% and 74% of last year in kilowatt hours per day.
I used groups of temperature days at 8C, 9C, 10C, 11.5C, 12C and 12.5C… a total of about 26 days of comparison between the two years.  So differences in daily weather patterns are minimized.
If I am super conservative and take the low end savings, I get 25% off of last year’s power usage, that would be a saving on my November 2016 bill of 636kWh… all on the top tier of 12.43c/kWh which would have amounted to a savings of $79.08 on my November 2016 bill.  
If I go on the top end of the savings calculated I go as high as a 50% reduction in power usage, that would get me to 1272.5kWh less usage compared to last November’s bill which is within Tier 1. I would have saved $154.79 on that bill.

Last year was, by far, our most expensive and consumption rich year ever since moving into the house.  A combination of a very cold winter, and a family that is growing up and using more heat (kids having showers!) and finishing the basement, etc etc.

We use electricity exclusively for our energy/heating needs.  We paid a total BC Hydro bill last year between May 2016 and May 2017 of $2724.32.

A 25% savings on that would be:


A 50% savings on that would be:


per year.

Subtracting the $800 rebate, the cost of the Heat Pump would be paid for in 5 to 11 years.
I suspect that the savings will be somewhere in the middle of that range on a percentage basis, but it is of course difficult, if not impossible, to predict the monetary savings given annual weather and hydro rate variables.  It does seem certain that hydro rates will rise, and so with them, savings. A 5-10 year payoff seems quite likely and I’m OK with that. 🙂

(Updated Dec 21) CanTimber Golder report raises serious concerns that must be addressed before restarting

(Updated Dec 21)

Subsequent the City of Port Alberni has released a statement on the report.  Here is the City of Port Alberni’s statement.

Earlier this week, the Port Alberni Port Authority publically released the evaluation of operations and emissions at the Cantimber Biotech facility. The evaluation was conducted by Golder Associates, an independent consulting firm with expertise in emission measurement and controls and air quality permitting.

The report provides a thorough review of Cantimber’s operation with key findings and recommendations regarding the facility operation, emissions testing, air quality, and other regulatory considerations.

While the report outlines Cantimber’s general compliance with many of the provincial limits for emissions, there are air quality concerns identified that the City feels must be addressed before operations resume.

The City of Port Alberni’s paramount concern is for the health and welfare of the community. As such, the City is committed to working with the Port Alberni Port Authority, Golder Associates, Cantimber, the provincial health and environmental authorities, Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations, and the many regional partners to ensure the facility’s operation is safe and environmentally responsible.  The City’s support of Cantimber operating in the community is contingent upon their being consistent with the high environmental standards that were committed to at the developmental stage of this venture.

Cantimber has expressed a strong commitment to fulfil the operational and emissions improvements identified in the report. The City remains confident in the opportunities to establish and grow an eco-industrial forest products cluster within the Alberni Valley as an economically and environmentally responsible component of our existing forest-based economy.

As the regulatory authority, the Port Alberni Port Authority(link is external) will be providing further information regarding the operational status and progress of Cantimber in addressing the report’s recommendations.

I in general agree with the City’s statement and their direction on this particularly the expectation that CanTimber operate ‘contingent upon their being consistent with the high environmental standards that were committed to’.

However, one thing the statement does not address is the water treatment and disposal issues that were identified in the report.  As such, I have sent the following letter to City Staff and Council on the topic:

I think the statement is good however, I am concerned by the details in the report of disposal of the scrubbed water. What is in the water (which wasn’t part of Golder mandate)? How is it being transported (plastic containers? Then?), and where is it being disposed of?  I am concerned by the potential noted in the report of that solution overflowing during strong rain events. What happens in that event? What are the consequences and actions? And finally, I am concerned about the cooling water, even though it should be “clean”, simply being sent down the drain.  These all strike me as both City (sewer or waste disposal through acrd) and DFO items.
I would like to please request that these issues be brought up with DFO to see if they have any concerns and some more detail provided by Cantimber or Golder on disposal, etc.
Without these all being addressed fully it will be very hard to convince an already skeptical public.
Thanks for your continued attention to this issue.

I hope the City will take this water issue seriously and bring DFO to the table.  There was never any indication from the original reports that there would be any potential harm to the Harbour from the operation but I believe the water scrubber material and the hot water discharge put that at risk.  Unfortunately the whole “no emissions” idea just hasn’t held up.

It should also be said that there were positives in the report, and it was not my intent to ignore those.  The particulate and other air emissions were good and well within limits.  It is the NO2, Carbon Monoxide, and the potential for PAHs that were a surprise and I am hopeful that CanTimber takes those concerns seriously and addresses all 21 of the recommendations fully before restarting operations.

Original Post

I have read the report on the emissions testing from engineers at Golder Associates.  These are my personal views on the report.  You can download the report here in PDF.  It is very good. I give credit to PAPA for bringing in Golder. They have produced a comprehensive and objective report.

The Bottomline

I was very hopeful for this facility and believed it could be a new way forward for our industry, but what I have read leads me to believe that at the very least this facility may not be viable in its current location, and at worst it may not be viable at all.  They have much work to do before I would be comfortable with them restarting operations.

This report raises serious concerns on both the air and water emissions. Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and PAHs were all identified as areas of concern and the water emissions from the scrubbers and cooling equipment are also issues.  The report indicates emissions modelling, ie. what we expected from the stacks and how it would behave, done for the 2015 Levalton report was “not considered to be representative of the facility”.  Carbon Monoxide levels were two hundred and fifty times higher than the licensed limits which is of similar magnitude as an operation the size of Catalyst Paper.

I believe these issues will need input from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (who has not been involved to this point) and the Provincial Ministry of Environment.  Had this report been provided in place of the Levalton report I personally would not have supported this operation.

It is very far from “emissions free”.

There are major actions that need to be taken by CanTimber in order to ensure this facility is safe and can be properly monitored for their workers, for the neighbourhood, and for the air and marine environment.  Currently, I can’t realistically support it being operated at its waterfront Harbour location.

The Concerns and Recommendations

First, there are 21 recommendations in total.  There are 11 recommendations (shaded in grey) that “should be completed prior to the facilities resumed operation”.

Some are relatively simple like installing permanent monitoring and alarm systems for temperatures and air quality.  Others are much more involved like upgrading the water disposal system to be a contained system that is regularly and safely emptied.

I will go through each of the 11 immediate concerns in order of what I think is most important, though they really should be all taken together and the final recommendation #21 speaks directly to that point.

RECOMMENDATION #10, 11 and 13

….updated modelling should consider emissions of PM2.5, NO2, CO and individual VOCs including Acrolein, Acrylonitrile, Benzene and Napthalene.

…GIven the magnitude of the CO emissions, the modelling assessment should be undertaken to confirm that the level of emissions result in acceptable ambient concentrations of CO prior to the facility re-commencing operations.

Monitoring for CO at the facility and associated procedures should be developed to reduce the risk of worker exposure to CO….

These are the most serious deficiencies, and recommendations, of all of them and it has to do with the emissions from the stacks.

Table 1 provides a summary of the stack test results. A comparison is provided against the emission rates used as the basis of the dispersion modelling assessment undertaken by Levelton (Levelton 2015).

The numbers on the left hand most column are what we expected based on the modelling reports the City and PAPA were provided prior to Cantimber starting up.  CanTimber then agreed to adhere to those numbers (4.15 for Nitrogen Dioxide and 2.08 for Carbon Monoxide).

The Golder engineers bolded the areas of concern in the table.  Most of the emissions are well within limits but there are two, the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and the Carbon Monoxide (CO) that are beyond the limits.  Nitrogen Dioxide is estimated to be double the agreed emissions and Carbon Monoxide more than 250x the agreed standard.

That level of emissions puts the small Cantimber Facility at the same general level as Catalyst Paper. Which Golder illustrates fully in the table below:

That amount of Carbon Monoxide emissions from such a small facility is shocking.

This is also concerning:

Measured stack temperatures are significantly lower than those used as the basis of the dispersion modelling (Levelton 2015). The lower temperatures will result in less thermal buoyancy, and therefore poorer dispersion of stack emissions.

Measured volumetric flow rates, and consequently stack gas velocities are lower than those used as the basis for the dispersion modelling (Levelton 2015).

You can see the flow rates and velocity in the first table above.  The numbers on the far left column should be lower than the numbers on the far right.  Unfortunately, they are not.

These factors together mean that all of that Carbon Monoxide is being emitted into the air and it is not dispersing very well.  Golder identified it as a potential safety hazard for workers onsite.  I would also be worried that it may be a hazard for neighbours including residents and WFP workers as this is a significant new source of Carbon Monoxide in the area.

I personally would never have given my support to a project with those levels of emissions in that location.


Naphthalene, a polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) was detected within both the carbonization and activation stacks. This was the only PAH compound currently included in the stack test. Based on the presence of naphthalene, stack testing of speciated PAH’s is recommended in the future.

These are potentially harmful emissions.  PAHs are nasty compounds.  These were also not considered a concern based on the previous reports so Golder has recommended that new assessments be done with those in mind.

It is recommended that the modelling assessment is updated for PM2.5, NO2, and CO, and additionally the modelling is used to assess the off-site concentrations of individual VOCs detected, including Acrolein, Acrylonitrile, Benzene and Napthalene.

Again, I would not have been as supportive of a project that produced these toxic chemicals and the fact the previous reports had no mention of even the possibility of some of these compounds is very disturbing.


“The scrubber water disposal system should be upgraded to a contained system prior to the facilities resumed operation. “


“There should be a mechanism/procedure in place to replace the scrubber water as required to maintain efficiency of the particulate removal from exhaust gases.”

This scrubber water, which is in an open-to-the air vessel where the water is collected and evaporates will contain potentially harmful emissions (tars, acids, PAHs etc) from the stack gases.  In a heavy rain event, this vessel could conceivably overflow.  It is imperative that this water be removed in an efficient and safe way.

“The containment may not be adequate, particularly during periods of significant rainfall. During the evaporation, any water soluble organic compounds collected by the scrubbers have the potential to be re-emitted to the atmosphere.

During the site visit, an upgrade to the scrubber water system was discussed which includes capturing scrubber sump discharges within plastic containers, and subsequent removal off site for disposal. It is Golder’s understanding that these upgrades are currently in process and will be in place prior to the re-start of operations. “

I am not convinced that removing the water scrubber discharge in ‘plastic containers’ is very efficient or reliable.

This is also potentially a fishery concern if there is a chance that the system could overflow during heavy rainfall events.

Speaking of fisheries, Recommendation #8:

Cooling water should be adequately cooled prior to discharge to surface drains.

This is *not* a recommendation that is suggested to be complete before restart.  However, here is what is stated from the report during the testing:

“Cooling water discharges were identified during the facility operation. The cooling water is non-contact water that is not in direct contact with the process gases.”

The temperature of the water discharge from the carbonization process “was estimated to be 50-70 °C” and  “was discharged to a surface water drain.”  The temperature from the water discharge from the activation process “was estimated to be 30-40 °C” and “was discharged to a surface water drain (Photograph 1). “

This should be simply city water that is being brought into the facility for cooling purposes only and not have anything added to it so it should be safe, but Golder was not asked to test this water and to my knowledge the Department of Fisheries was not contacted to ensure any discharges into the Marine environment is safe.

In my opinion, DFO should be brought into this process to sign off on the impact to the Harbour from both a potential spill of the water scrubber effluent and from this hot water discharge.  We should also hear from the Provincial Ministry of Environment on what is in the scrubber discharge and where it is being taken.  This would be standard for any industrial operation like Catalyst or Western Forest Products.  The City of Port Alberni may also have a responsibility to provide a sewer hookup for the facility.

Recommendation #2 and #3:

“A low temperature audible alarm is installed on both combustion chambers.”


“A datalogger is installed to record temperatures within both high temperature combustion chambers.”

The report states:

“To keep the combustion chambers temperature above 875 °C charcoal was added manually, approximately twice an hour. The timing of the charcoal addition was entirely dependent on the chamber temperature, and was therefore not added on a regular time basis (e.g., every 30 minutes). The temperature in the chamber relied on the operator visually monitoring the temperature read out, and acting to add more charcoal when the temperature decreased close to 875 °C.”

This strikes me as a surprisingly ‘hands on’ and inefficient approach.  A high operating temperature is critical to ensuring emissions are kept to a minimum. This labour intensive approach makes that much more difficult.  Golder recognized this as well as their Recommendation #1 : “The fuel source for the combustion chambers is changed to natural gas, and is automated.” speaks directly to that.  I am a little surprised that Golder did not recommend that that change over to natural gas be done before the system is restarted because this is also a concern that was raised before both by the Air Quality Council (by the Provincial Ministry of Environment) and by the general public.

There are also Worksafe BC concerns around emissions from leaks that were detected from the carbonization equipment itself and to protect the workers in that immediate vicinity.

“During the monitoring a leak was detected near the fire door of eastern furnace #4, which was traced to the nearby syngas valve. Concentrations at the leak location were detected up to 40 ppm. A temporary seal was made to the leak at the time it was detected. Concentrations at the other syngas valves ranged from 200 ppb to 15 ppm.”

Recommendations 4 and 5 address those concerns as there were leaks detected in the equipment during the testing.  They recommend regular testing be done while it is in operation to identify any leaks so they can be resolved immediately and workers are not exposed to harmful emissions and are aware of exposure limits.

Recommendation #9

A meteorological station with a datalogger and web portal access to the data is installed in the proximity of the facility.

The specification and location of the meteorological station should be approved by a suitably qualified person.

There is a serious problem with the assumptions made because the weather at the facility is not the same at the nearest reliable weather station on Alberni Elementary (run by the BC Ministry of Environment)

Given the significant difference in wind pattern between the Cantimber and elementary school station locations, the meteorological data from the elementary school location is not considered to be representative of the wind pattern at the Cantimber facility. Therefore it is recommended that a meteorological station is installed in the vicinity of the facility. This will provide information to use in the investigation of complaints and interpretation of ambient monitoring data. The specification and location of the meteorological station should be approved by a suitably qualified person.

This means that because the modelling done for dispersion of air pollutants for the 2015 report relied on the Alberni Elementary station, it would not match the real world because the wind is so different along the Harbour.  (As anyone in Port Alberni would know).

So I (and the City) made a decision to support the facility based on potentially incorrect data.

This would be an excellent argument for Environment Canada to re-install a meteorological station on the Somass River which should be much more representative of the Harbour, and of the City in general.


Inclusion of a condition in the permit to avoid saltwater contact with the wood chip feedstock.

Golder said:

The permit should include restrictions around the source of wood chips to ensure they are not in contact with saltwater, as this could potentially result in air emissions of dioxins and furans.

This was a surprising finding as I was always under the impression that none of the wood used in the facility was going to come from saltwater booms and so there was no worry about the wood being impregnated with salt which is well known to cause harmful emissions when it is burned, especially at low temperatures.  I do wonder if the simple proximity of the wood to the Harbour may be enough to have them absorb some saltwater from mist and spray in the area.


The current license requirements for quarterly stack sampling should be updated based on the results of the recommended updated dispersion model assessment. As a minimum, quarterly stack testing for PM2.5, NO2 and CO is recommend during the first year of operation.

This means that Golder believes CanTimber needs to have its license requirements updated *after* more modelling based on an updated dispersion model.  This would depend on all of the previous monitoring related recommendations being followed through on first.

Golder recommends that this all be done *before* CanTimber is allowed to resume operations.


I don’t know if all of these recommendations amount to a show stopper for CanTimber but one thing is for sure, I cannot support CanTimber restarting its operations until they have at least complied with the 11 recommendations from Golder.  And preferably they should have to comply with all  of them.

Realistically, they may not be able to comply with these recommendations and deal with the implications and still be sited on the Harbour Waterfront.

I do not believe at this time that this facility should be operating on the City of Port Alberni waterfront.

Report from UBCM 2016 in Victoria

A Comprehensive and complete report from the UBCM 2016 conference in Victoria.

7AM Tuesday – Good Morning from Victoria BC!

Like last year (UBCM 2015) and the FCM, and the AVICC, I have once again live blogged and reported on the Union of BC Municipalities conference.  Enjoy!

This post was updated continuously throughout the week. The schedule was packed.  Here it all is below.




I don’t have the schedule for Friday as it was only speeches and resolutions in the main hall from 8AM until the official close of the conference at 12PM.

First, the Liability Exposure of Local Government workshop. Here is the description:

Section 744 of the Local Government Act provides immunity to local governments in relation to certain nuisance actions. However, in the face of ever changing climate conditions, broader protection for local governments is needed. Comparable legislation to the British Columbia act in Alberta provides considerably expansive protection in this regard. It would be beneficial to local governments if legislative reform to Section 744 rendered it as broad – and possibly broader – than the immunity currently granted to local governments in British Columbia.

9AM Update – Municipal Liability with severe weather (climate change) and lobbying the Province to better protect Municipalities and taxpayers.

I didn’t realize this was actually going to be a climate change related workshop… but when dealing with insurance and liability I guess I should not be surprised.  The message was clear that local governments, because of the legislation in BC (compared to somewhere like Alberta) are very exposed to being sued due to severe weather events they have no control over.

Reducing Liability Exposure for Local Gov.

– We are actually talking climate change liability risk
– Problem is Section 744 of Community Charter
– The $2 Billion Floods in Alberta – (from mostly sewer backups) – was largest insurance claim in Canada and mostly fell on local government.  However, because of Alberta legislation, they were protected and did not have to pay out.  In BC we do not have that protection.
– Local Governments in BC are sitting ducks.

Here are the main issues:


Local government has little responsibility on first two… main liability is extreme weather.  We are now seeing 1-100 year events every 10 or so years.  Infrastructure is often built for 1-25 year simply because municipalities can’t make stuff bigger than that for cost reasons. In Alberta, that gap is covered. We must plan for future development… paving over natural drainage ways… not making sure new development does not impact downstream. Not correcting a problem when you know about. You have to maintain. Sued for negligeance most common is Sidewalk.

Here is the section:


This will help protect from climate change, severe weather but not always, ONLY WITH BREAKDOWN OR MALFUNCTION, not capacity! (Severe flooding). Alberta has more broad protection that covers operation or non operation.

Comment: Port Alberni is not under of the BC Municipal Insurance umbrella.  Perhaps we should be if it gives us more collective influence with other majority of municipalities.

This issue is going to cost many many more times more than leaky condos.

MIABC will help Local Gov implement “get out of jail free card” in new policies. It has to be in writing and approved, and does it set out reasonable achievable resources. Not “best practice” that is unaffordable or practical and realistic. Make sure you document everything! In legislation we need to change “breakdown and malfunction” to Alberta’s “operation and non-operation”. This is the only thing that needs to change so it is simple and hopefully easy but need lobbying support from affected local governments.

700-800 Municipal Insurance claims a year… usually about 12-24 right now weather/climate related.  This year, forecasts say fewer days of rain, but more intense storms.

Note: if you are with MiABC you get unlimited number of basic consultations on tip line for $100/yr.

10AM Tuesday – Affordable housing and low wage crisis.

Even small communities are starting to lose young demographic because it is unaffordable in BC but smaller communities do have ability to pull disadvantaged millenials and gen X from lower mainland.

From a generational standard, no province has taken bigger hit in housing cost and low wages for younger generations.  Child Care is costing more than tuition… at same time that new parents are paying historically high tuition debt.

img_9039 img_9040 img_9043Solutions:

Homes first. Tax housing wealth more to slow housing price, cut income taxes. Need more rental accommodation.

Second speaker: Mayor of Quesnel Bob Simpson

$2.4 Million annual infrastructure deficit. Tax shifting from Industry to Residents, they increased taxes 7% for 4 years. We did a town hall and did a 10% incremental cut in operations.  We had to show that it was all going to infrastructure. We have not had a tax revolt and people are accepting of it because they see tangible benefit.

“We need to giveup parking in business district to create a people cemtric space”

It is about creating our own positive, progressive stories.  We are investing and making great infrastructure. We are providing a Living Wage. We are in control of our google results by doing and creating the news and creating the infrastruxture that makes it real! (Liveavle, bikeability, transit, condos and small affordable desirable living places).

2PM Tuesday – Drug-Related Overdoes: A Public Health Emergency

Dr. Perry Kendall – Chief Medical Officer

We are on track for 600 overdoses… this graph below starts in the 1990s and shows how fast it has been rising (first bump was the Vancouver crisis in 90s)img_3418

(Go to BC CDC to see a larger readable version of this image)

These deaths (below since 2007) are the tip of the iceberg because of the naxolone kit or otherwise… you can see the impact on communities (Nanaimo in list note how numbers rise).

img_3419This outbreak is happening amongst the working class, younger (under 50) and so it is in private (in homes) not in public on street.  Leads to challenges for notification and education as well as direct access to the users.  The fentanyl is being cut in with other drugs “polydrug”.

Comment: A lot of heavy slides.  They are doing a ton of work across all sectors of the public service to try to address the problem.  It truly does sound like an emergency and crisis footing.  This includes trying to get more buy-in from senior government to expand health intervention and safe injection type sites.  There is a lot of political resistance to the concept still… asks attendees to advocate for that to the province.  It is a health issue.

They are trying to build capacity and underpinning to try to make changes that will address the issue long term while “keeping people alive” with naloxone kits going to all emergency services including, soon, RCMP/Police. Trained 14,000 people so far and 2200 doses have been given across BC. (Those people could have all died!)

Mark Tyndall MD BC Centre for Disease Control

Drug Overdose is not a new issue.  Same social issues… but what has changed? Fentanyl is the opioid “currency”.  The margin of error is very small… thus deaths.  Sheer number of people on opioids has grown massively in past 10-15 years.

Started with patches (cutting up the patch into strips) by prescription and then the powdered fentanyl came in 2013. This has replaced heroine and cocaine and other opioids because it is so cheap.

“Fentanyl Kills” messaging — doesn’t work with people who are addicted.  They won’t stop without alternatives.

“Merits of Harm Reduction is not up for debate.”  (“Much like climate change”)

Many of these talking points are on the BC CDC website.

“We are downloading our medical care onto people who are least trained to do it …. friends, family, others.  Good that we now have BC Ambulance and Fire and RCMP are getting the kits but we need more support.

In all the years of safe injection site “InSite” in Vancouver, there has never been an overdose. Extremely effective way to prevent deaths and provide further support. (Social workers, nurses, etc)


There is no where for people to go for help to get those first steps. A 6 month Waiting List for treatment is not appropriate.


“The War on Drugs is a total failure”

Federal government is open to Harm Reduction. And Provincial government is very open to innovation.


Communities need to make it happen on the ground.  They have the most power because they are so close to the issue.

Dr. Kerry Jang – Councillor / City of Vancouver

We as Municipal politicians need to take care of the police and fire to make sure they are supported. Look after first responders.

Call on the Health Authority “kill the naysayers with data”.  The Health authorities will work hand in hand with communities to lead.  Communities need to lead to create safe injection sites.  Latest research shows keep people independent at home is most effective. We can create health teams that will go to peoples homes.

Vancouver Healthy City Strategy – (Food, Services, Health)

Put a strategy in place so that when next crisis comes you can respond.


They say they have brought forward some solutions (at emergency meeting in June) but nothing has been done.


They are doing everything they can and need and want to do more.

3:30PM Tuesday- Emergency Coastal Response Session


Since I wasn’t able to participate in the Emergency Coastal Response exercise I wanted to make sure to get to this special session debriefing everything. Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Yamamoto is here as well. (Second right below) ACRD Chief Administrative Officer Russel Dyson is at left.


Minister Yamamoto came up to Councillors Washington, Paulson and I and thanked us for the whole of Port Alberni and the ACRD.  It was a massive effort!


The Minister “was struck” by the enormity of the task and complexity of the planning and operation.
img_3434400 different problems “injects” in the exercise to challenge the participants. The exercise involved all levels of government and also US FEMA and Washington State through “Cascadia Rising” exercise.


Had 140 people just in the Keating (Victoria) facility. Do we have the facilities (provincially and otherwise) capacity to do this?

They had an objective observer and analysis (from Alaska) done to see how the exercise went and will deliver a full “After Action” report with recommendations in coming months.img_3436Many moving parts and goals in the exercise.


Recurring theme:  There was a need for more capacity from a human standpoint.  People were starting to get tired and fatigued. Emergency Operations found they were looking very short term, hours and day time frame rather than looking out to Day 4, 5 or 6.  Operational Communications came away realizing how important it is to involve amateur radio in all aspects from the beginning.

Russel Dyson talking about how there was some apprehension at scale of the operation but with planning it all came together.  ACRD only had 20 full time staff and included City of Port Alberni and volunteers to pull it off.


Report from ACRD Staff will be coming to the ACRD Board and City of Port Alberni.

Western Forest Products, Catalyst and Port Authority participated fully and donated equipment and land to add realism to the scenarios.

It was ACRD, City, Nanaimo, Tofino, Ucluelet…. they were all thrown in with no expectation.  Comment from the evaluators: “You guys worked so well together”  Very proud.

Actually did paper work through HAM Radio to request resources like a Helicopter for assessment and situational awareness.

Mid way through the exercise an emergency Board meeting was held where it was suggested that 50% of the Board members, in a real case, would not have been able (either by being away or injured, or worse?) would not be able to be involved.

The big takeaway from Mr. Dyson.  Practice, Practice Practice. The team building and all of the different skill sets brought together was absolutely invaluable.  More of these exercises are needed across the province.


Extremely valuable and great job to the Province for bringing this forward and making it happen.

From the Questions – Looking at ways to improve communications perhaps including an EMBC specific radio channels but that requires infrastructure (that can also be affected by earthquake). Some great questions from audience on EMBC putting in resources to remote communities, on authority piece (when does local government take control)… the paperwork needed was huge and really needed to focus on that.

“We thought as planners maybe we would have staff that would walk out and be too stressed as new employees… but it did not happen. People worked together and collaborated and there were tense moments but there was great team work”.

Is there a next step, next place?

Minister comments that if a similar event was taken on in a larger urban centre it would be a very different and valuable exercise.  There have been many requests from other communities to have a similar exercise.

7:30AM Wednesday – It’s early! How about Motels and Ultimatums?


It feels like an early morning. Tuesday night was a long one of receptions and networking and, honestly, wine.  But this is really where you learn from others and from other stakeholders.

Case in point: Catalyst Paper.  As an elected representative I have a responsibility to listen to all sides of an issue.  Last night, I talked to a rep from Catalyst and his first words were something to the effect of:

“There is an Old Growth Logging moratorium resolution on the floor at UBCM. If you support it and that came to pass, Catalyst would likely shut as would the other mills in Port Alberni”.

I really don’t like ultimatums… I will leave it there.

8:00AM Wednesday – Cleaning up Motels, Inns, and Dives.


Prince George talking about how they cleaned up derelict buildings.  It comes down to just doing what needs to be done after 30 years of talking about it. In 18 months 5 properties dealt with and now the community knows the Council and City are serious and “have a list you don’t want to be on”. (A Bylaw compliance list)

Make sure the process is transparent and legally supported but the community will support you and become your “eagle eyes”.


Business licenses are the method and process you can use to force compliance. If you suspend or cancel a business license at the location then they must stop and you can start to implement and require changes through worksafe, or health, or fire or safety or many other reasons.

Bylaw department takes the lead to gather evidence, inspect and outline the deficiencies so that they can be followed up on.

The suspension can be delegated to staff. The owner can then appeal to Council. Council has to deal with the appeal, have a public hearing and act on the will of the public which generally supports the issue.

Key evidence: Police callouts to the location.


If the “ground game” by Council and Staff is proper and transparent and wise, there will be no impetus for Judicial Review or challenges against the action from the motel owners or others.

Specific factors in business bylaw are helpful but most of the power comes from the statute in Community Charter. Just needs to be applied by an active and engaged Council and Staff.

Some places will shut and be “boarded up” but the hope is that the property owner does not want to keep paying taxes or the City can enforce destruction. (Which the Port Alberni has done in a number of cases).

10AM – Keynote at UBCM

Hearing from Dr. Samantha Nutt in the keynote this morning. An inspirational start that everyone needs and some simple messaging.


11AM Resolutions! Convention Begins!

A shot of the table of contents of the Resolutions. You can see them all at we will do the “A” resolutions first today.


First four resolutions below all passed very easily on downloading of DNA Analysis costs, marijuana regulation and taxation and short term accomodation (AirBNB)

img_9071 img_9072 img_9073


11:30AM Protection of Old Growth on VI and Site C

Two main resolutions that generated important votes. First a recommendation for UBCM to send a letter to the province to halt Site C development. The resolution was in the “block” of resolutions to be considered together.  Someone attempted to pull it out and debated indivdually (only those opposed to a resolution can call for them to be pulled).

That attempt was defeated and so the resolution was passed with the rest of the first B resolutions. Second, there was a resolution brought forward to Protect Old Growth on Vancouver Island.

img_9077 img_9078

The person in the picture is a councillor in Metchosin and a published scientist in forestry on the Island including all of the studies that have dealt with the issue.

After some debate, the motion on Old Growth passed strongly (I voted for as well).  We need to shift our forest industry on the Island to a sustainable second growth industry. There is no future in cutting Old Growth and the benefits from the small amount remaining, as has been advocated by the BC Chamber of Commerce, are huge and varied and much greater than the limited, finite value of cutting them.

Speech by Andrew Weaver.

You can view it on my Facebook page.

That was the end for the mornings major Resolutions… off to panels!

Cabinet Panel on Responsible Resource Development.

This is a Q&A session direct to Ministers.  Should be fun!


  • Minister Coleman (Natural Gas Development) at Left
  • Minister Letnick (Agriculture)
  • Minister Polak (Environment)
  • Minister Thompson – (Forests and NRO)
  • Minister Bennett – (Energy and Mines)
  • Minister Rustad (Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation)

Q1 – From Powell River on Agriculture – Can municipalities trade ALR land.

A1 – Best option is to ensure the Agricultural Land Commission is involved in Official Community Plan and it is that Commission, arms length from Minister that can approve a trade or other work.

Q2 – Shawnigan Lake  – Will you commit to reviewing the Professional reliance model and ensure there are no conflicts of interest with analysts being hired by company. (This is to do with the Land Contamination in their watershed!)

A2 – Minister Env. – The province monitors operations and ensures the compliance is met. The analysts are not handling compliance, they are data gathering and analysts.

Q3 -Will biomass to electricity facility shut down in Interior?

A3 – Minister Bennett There is a negotiation underway right now for the IPPs in the province for first contracts from Campbell era. The prices Hydro pays for that energy is hopefully going to go down but he does not believe that will jeopardize those facilities.

Q4 – Interior Annual Allowable Cut reductions – Softwood Lumber agreement

A4 – Minister Thompson – Softwood Lumber agreement is now under heavy negotiation. We would like free trade but that has never happened in the forest sector. That said they are working very hard to make that new agreement including working with Government of Canada. There will be reductions in AACs as the transition occurs from Mountain Pine Beetle and government will help with transitioning if needed.

Q5 – MMBC and zero waste

A5 – Ministry of Environment has worked hard to make improvements to MMBC.  And Ministry will be working hard to get to zero waste as it is a major part of Climate plan.

Q6 – Site C – Food Security – Peace Valley could feed a million people a year.

A6 – Minister Ag – 95% of farmland in Peace will continue. Farmers affected will be compensated. High tech Farms will need electricity (??). He fully supports Site C.

4PM – Premier’s Address – Cabinet Panels – “Responsible Resource Development”

I live streamed Premier Clark’s 30 minute address.  The link to that is on my Facebook page.

8AM – Stretch Code : A New Tool for Better Buildings


Stretch (Step) Code is a proposed tool.  Coming in the spring as part of Climate leadership plan. Building Act is now a specifically Province led.  Technical requirements driven by province no longer City.  Takes effect in December 2017.  All new buildings Net-Zero Ready by 2032.

The purpose is to build on top of the basic building code.  4 step between now and 2032.  As of Dec 2017 city will be able to require in bylaw that builders adhere to higher Steps.



They will be rolling it out over the next 12-18 months.


Voluntary incentive program – Energy Advisor ($500) and achieve Energuide 80 (which is Step 2 in plan above) they will refund portion of building fee.

(Note: my home is Energuide 77. So not quite 80. But shows it is achievable through renovations.)

Sparwood has seen very good uptake in new home building and builders do not report rise in cost.

Mentions City of Vancouver “raising the bar”. That will be useful in rest of province as builders start to learn required skills.

98% of houses since 2012 are built to Step 2.

PassivHaus is the goal/Step 4.



In smaller communities wih no Energy Advisor we may be able to have building inspectors be certified as energy advisors so they can check off that box. Note it does not apply to Manufactured Homes. Ministry is currently analyzing the cost differences.

For existing buildings there is no step code due to complexities but there is work beginning on the national level.

9AM Wednesday Official Opposition  Address John Horgan

You can see the recording on my Facebook page.

10:30AM  – Resolutions Day 2! Individual Debates

I will include Resolutions of particular interest or debate.

B66 Hauling Company permitting.

Trucks are supposed to require oversize or weight.  This is asking province to enforce that.







B68 Train Idling reduction.


Went to electronic vote. Passed.


B69 – One Accessible vehicle in taxi services.



B71 – Extended Absence from RD Board.  Boards would be able to dismiss a director and trigger a by-election after missing 4 meetings rather than have an alternate.


Motion Fails

B74 – Allow gas taxes to be used for Fire Equipment.



B75 – Changing Police Funding model so that the shift from 30% to 70% is not all at once.


Lots of debate. Carries with amendment striking the 2nd resolved paragraph.

B76 – Social Procurement –


Amendment to take out the second Resolved (As a first step) passed. There are infrastruxture funding requirements in other jurisdictions (Ontario) that require these considerations.


B77 – Socially responsible investing. (Climate) Creating an option for communities to invest.


Long debate and very close electronic vote. Passed.


B81 – Another call to change how RCMP funding (in a different way).


Long debate and close vote. It fails.


B82 – To have Province analyze the RCMP issue.


Passes easily.

B85 – Bylaw Enforcement fine limits be raised to $5000. (To try to cover the costs actually incurred)


B86/87/88 on pets and dangerous dog registry.

img_9116img_9117Amended B87


B88 (focusing more on owners)


All Passed.

11:00AM Resolutions continue

B91 – First Nation consultations

img_9120 C and D points were removed after much debate. Passed strongly.

B95 – Funding of Libraries in rural areas.


Passes easily (province share in VIRB has gone from 25% to less than 10%)

B97 Gender Neutral Language


Long debate with honestly some terrible comments. Passed easily. (Small house now)

B98 – Transgender protection



Wednesday Afternoon – Red Cross – Weird Weather – BC Assessment.

Red Cross Disaster Management

In Fort McMurray : It was the local authority that got people out.
1929 dwellings destroyed 643 unsafe
28 days with evac order
80,000 individuals evac in 24hrs

They have a “shadow” population of 45,000. Spread all over country. Very unusual.


$50M distributed to evacuees electronically within days.
$299M raised total. $165 from donations

Over 100,000 people registered in the emergency.
There are RC resources (cots/beds etc) in communities across BC.
First Aid by the Canadian Red Cross App

Be Ready by Canadian Red Cross App

Straight talk weird weather.


Showing that heat is not evenly spread in any particular year, but trend (circle) is accelerating. From 0.48°C in Summer 2003 to over 1° Warming in 2015 winter.

Future projections.

Projected 45% increase in heavy rain events south Island.

2015 may be the best case scenario in future, or low (cold) end of the worst.

more local data at

General predictions for BC

Light blue shows future extent of King Tide after sea level rise in False Creek (extends to Clark Drive.)

Most flood maps in Canada average age is 1986 are obsolete due to already occurred climate change. Expect 45% more flood area.


Image shows when under three sea level rise changes, Vancouver will have up to 100% chance of need to move or deal with sea level changes due to King Tides taking over land.  “1” blue line In Vancouver, adaptation, replacement of viaducts will be built above flood level.


You can’t rely on voluntary restrictions only. “If nothing is done to manage demand, if supply increases, demand will increase to manage it.” Monitoring and metering water. “Smarter metering the better”. Australia managed 10 years of drought because they had all metered usage and so could manage.  Cheapest safest way to expand supply is to stop wasting water (this also applies for electricity).

BC will need to increase irrigated farm areas outside lower mainland. Some areas of BC are wasting 30-60% of water from leakage.

Friday Finally!  First a Resolution.

img_9145 img_9147

It is a near empty room on Friday morning but there are a number of important resolutions coming forward this morning so it is really important that as many people are here as possible.  Councillor Sharie Minions is pictured at front voting.  It was an early start after a long week!

A motion from the floor for university and college student housing.  Trying to address the rental housing crisis in Victoria and Vancouver.


Passes easily.

A motion off the floor for Open Government at UBCM and Area Association.  It needed a 60% vote in order for it to be considered. It failed.

img_9150 img_9151


B99 – Resolution on allowing those who take Parental Leave can return with all of the same responsibilities.


Much debate. Passed.

B100 – to acknowledge and support the Auditor General Local Government office.



B101 – Excellent Port Hardy Councillor Jessie Hemphill to task UBCM to invite all First Nations to participate in UBCM.


Passes Unanimously

B102 – Prioritizing UBCM Resolution processes



B103 – Code of Conduct (to prevent sexual harassment) for future UBCM events.


Passes as amended.

Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities address and BC Minister of Communities

Live Video (FB) of Minister Sohi and Minister Fassbender addressing UBCM

 Last Resolutions… for real.

B104 Taxation of Brownfields



B105  Allow Municipalities to tax multi-family residential differently from other residents.



B106 – Rainwater Harvesting Systems

B107 to make it possible for government to force the extension of sewer to electoral areas without requiring consent.


Fails. (Mostly due to abrogation of electoral area rights.)

B108 – To assess professional reliance regimes (Shawnigan Lake watershed issue)



B110 – Camping on riverbeds.



B114 to review and change funding of Hospital infrastructure away from property taxes.



B122 – Pharmacare program



B127 Herring west coast ban.



B128 – Put unredeemed container deposits into parks.



After this resolution there was not enough time left to get to the many remaining resolutions.  The resolutions were thus voted as a block to either be endorses or not endorsed as the resolutions committee recommended, or if no recommendation was given, referred to the UBCM executive for a decision.

That brings an end to this report.  Another very tiring but very rewarding and interesting UBCM.  Looking forward to next year’s event which is being held in either Vancouver or Whistler.

(This was me most of the time in the conference hall… video live streaming and taking notes, or tweeting, or updating the blog or…) lol.


Natural Gas “ban” in Vancouver and what Port Alberni is doing

Subtitle: “In defense of difficult, yet necessary, conversations and policy.”

(Updated, see P.S. And P.P.S. At the bottom)

I am about to say something controversial. (Big surprise right? :)).

The City of Vancouver’s policy on 100% use of renewable energy by residents and business in the City and an 80% reduction in GHG emissions before 2050 is proper, wise, policy.  (I have a problem with their claim of using “renewable natural gas” but we’ll get to that another time)

It is far from popular. I listened to the screaming on CKNW yesterday that they would “ban” natural gas (which isn’t right… it is a phase out, not a ban) and have witnessed plenty of angry 😱😤😤😱😡😡 emoticons across Facebook and Twitter. (There appears to be confusion, possibly intentionally sown? between the targets for new construction and renovation markets, clarification here)  This is an understandable and reasonable reaction.

But here’s the thing: If we all accept the climate science, and most Canadians do (“Canadians Back Bold Climate Action“), and we are serious about addressing the problem then this must happen. There is no way around it.


What is that number? That is our CO2 “budget”. That is the amount, in billions of tonnes (GigaTonnes) of CO2 humanity can emit after 2015 in order to have a good chance of limiting warming to less than 2°C.  It is from the IPCC and reiterated in a report released yesterday.

The city of Vancouver is planning for there to be zero use of Natural Gas by 2050. People are very upset.  People, especially folks like the Canadian Tax Payers, Federation say it costs too much money.  And yet what those voices ignore is the cost of doing nothing.  Not reducing our total fossil fuel usage to zero before hitting that 843 budget will have consequences that will cost taxpayers billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars.  Already, we have had disasters like those in Fort MacMurray, connected to climate change, that will cost the insurance industry billions, cost government hundreds of millions just for dealing with the disasters at the time (Infrastructure repair comes later), and cost residents thousands in expenses trying to put their lives back together.  The same goes for other flooding and fire disasters in Canada over the past few years. And this, with only 1ºC of warming in the world so far…

So this policy is what climate action means. In order to stop pushing our planet to an unliveable state, we must stop using fossil fuels and a gradual decline to zero before 2050 makes sense. Replacing heating appliances using Natural Gas with electricity and requiring buildings to be far more energy efficient is the low hanging fruit.

So you might ask if there are similar plans in Port Alberni. Do we have similar reduction targets? No. Should we? Honestly, yes, but we’re not there yet. Instead, we are working on policies that will help people transition even if the implied end goal is not yet spelled out.

The City of Port Alberni is working on a program to be implemented soon that will give homeowners rebates if they switch their oil (and possibly natural gas) home heating appliances (furnaces) to electric.  There are similar programs in Nanaimo and other cities.  There will also be rebates that will encourage making your home more energy efficient because the best way to save money isn’t to pick the cheapest fuel, it is to reduce the need for any fuel at all.

We will try to help that happen and in the process we will be starting to make the required reductions that Vancouver has been so brave as to state in full.  We will all need to be more brave in the coming years, this change will be very rewarding, but undeniably difficult.

By the way, the conclusions of the report I linked to at the top before the little table…. was that the math shows us we cannot start any new fossil fuel infrastructure. None.  The operations in the world today that are currently extracting coal, oil, and gas, have more than enough carbon in them to put us over the 2ºC limit (just under 1000 gigatonnes).  So that makes questions about whether or not to support things like LNG, Kinder Morgan, Dakota Access, and other new infrastructure pretty moot…. the report recommends no new fossil fuel infrastructure be approved or built.

This reinforces many research papers published recently showing that 99% of unconventional (i.e.. oilsands and fracked gas) and 72% of conventional oil reserves remaining in Canada must stay in the ground. (Nature – data table 3)


There seems to be talk in the media about an incredible 70% decrease in 4 years.  This is false.

The 70% by 2020 refers to new construction only, not existing buildings (renos). Vancouver are focusing on their building bylaws (because they can do that under the Vancouver Charter). They want all new construction to be 100% renewable by 2030. 90% by 2025. This is Reasonable.

Here is the report that is being referenced, it says:

“Analysis undertaken in the development of the Renewable City Strategy estimated that of all the buildings (measured by floor space not number of structures) that are anticipated by 2050:
30% would be built prior to 2010
30% would be built between 2010 and 2020
40% would be built after 2020.

If all buildings are to use only renewable energy by 2050, the sooner new buildings achieve near zero emissions, the fewer buildings there will be that require costly and challenging deep energy retrofits to achieve the target.”

The best way to make that switch isn’t shift from nat gas to electricity, it is to reduce energy usage to as close to zero as possible, and that is exactly what they have proposed to require new developments to do by adopting Passive House or alternative zero emission building standards”

from their third recommendation:

“THAT Council direct staff to build all new City-owned and Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) projects to be Certified to the Passive House standard or alternate zero emission building standard, and use only low carbon fuel sources, in lieu of certifying to LEED Gold unless it is deemed unviable by Real Estate and Facilities Management, or VAHA respectively, in collaboration with Sustainability and report back with recommendations for a Zero Emissions Policy for New Buildings for all City-owned and VAHA building projects by 2018.”

Council Document