While the federal government talks about climate change in the throne speech and world leaders meet in Madrid for the United Nations climate change convention, communities in the West Kootenays are taking action in their backyards.
Recently, the Village of Kaslo became the third West Kootenay local government in the past month to make the commitment to 100% renewable energy, the sixth this year and the ninth in the region.
"Kaslo is proud to be part of the 100% renewable energy movement across the West Kootenays and beyond. We're looking forward to taking the next steps in this transition and joining our other local government partners and the public in working toward this goal,” says Mayor Suzan Hewat.
Kaslo Village Council passed the resolution at last night’s meeting, joining the Cities of Castlegar, Nelson and Rossland, the Villages of New Denver, Slocan, Silverton and Warfield, and the Regional District of Central Kootenay in their commitment to use renewable energy in all energy use in the community, including heating and cooling, transportation, electricity and waste management.
“Kaslo has always been a forward thinking community. Past history shows that we have been ahead of our time in addressing global issues. We appreciate the effort by community members championing these types of issues,” says Councillor Molly Leathwood.
“We recently did a Walk-A-Bout with the Chamber of Commerce and many businesses were already looking at alternatives to plastic bag use. Issues such as banning the use of pesticides have already made it to the Council Table and over the years have tried to reduce our carbon footprint in municipal buildings and equipment,” Leathwood says.
“This is what leadership looks like on the ground. The goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050 is spreading across our region,” adds Montana Burgess, West Kootenay EcoSociety executive director.
“The time for talk has passed. We’re seeing communities here in the Kootenays taking action, and it’s building momentum to show other communities that they can tackle this, too. Our local governments are leading in working together to address the climate crisis,” Burgess says.
In the recent federal election, more than 60% of Canadian voters chose parties promising more action on the climate crisis. Canada’s new Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson is in Spain at the UN climate conference and has the opportunity to show the world that Canada is ready to diversify its economy while enabling a just transition to a renewable energy economy that protects workers and communities.
And while Canada just pledged to be net-zero by 2050, the real ambition to embrace a renewable energy future is found at the local government level. Towns and cities that are stepping up to prove 100% renewable energy use is possible are setting the bold precedents that others can follow.
“I am proud to be a part of Kaslo's Climate Action Team (K.C.A.T.), a group of determined local citizens who are helping to increase awareness about climate change and the need to shift towards 100% renewable energy in our own backyards. It takes a village!” says Kaslo resident and volunteer Lynn van Deursen.
West Kootenay EcoSociety has invited the village to take part in developing a strategy to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 as part of a regional plan, and the village plans to include the energy transition in their upcoming revision of their Official Community Plan, the most powerful tool local governments have for planning their communities and development.
The EcoSociety is working with local governments to draft a West Kootenay 100% Renewable Energy Plan to achieve the clean energy transition while building stronger communities. The plan is set to be released in 2020 with opportunities for residents to provide their input and ideas over the coming year.
West Kootenay EcoSociety is a non-profit community-driven organization that brings together local residents to protect the natural environment while building just, equitable, healthy, and livable communities in the West Kootenay region.
Photo Caption: Kaslo Village Council and renewable energy supporters celebrate the commitment to the 100% renewable energy transition. — Submitted photo