Half of the Canadian municipal governments that have committed to transitioning onto renewable energy are in the West Kootenays.
Castlegar City Council voted last night to be part of the 100 per cent renewable energy transition by 2050 in all energy use sectors in the community, including heating and cooling, transportation, electricity and waste management, becoming the seventh local government in the West Kootenays and the 15th in Canada to pass such a council resolution.
Council passed the resolution at last night’s meeting, joining Silverton, Slocan, New Denver, Rossland, Nelson and the Regional District of Central Kootenay in their commitment to cleaner, healthier, safer communities and a stronger economy in the region.
West Kootenay EcoSociety asked Castlegar City Council to support the renewable energy transition, after getting support from over 1,100 Castlegar residents and 18 businesses. EcoSociety outlined the benefits of the clean energy transition and how it can help the city develop a strategy to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.
“Castlegar is a wonderful community that is well on its way to being energy efficient and having 100 per cent renewable energy,” said Montana Burgess, West Kootenay EcoSociety executive director. “Castlegar has extensive bike lanes and walking paths, electric vehicle charging stations, an energy efficient waste treatment facility, and solar panels up on City Hall where everyone can see them.”
The West Kootenay is hoping to be the largest geographic area in the country to commit to the transition to clean energy. 10,000 people in the region have signed a petition encouraging their local governments to take up the challenge for cleaner energy and healthier communities. Over 100 businesses and organizations have also said they support the 100 per cent renewable energy transition.
“This is a big step forward for Castlegar. The city has positioned itself as a leader and innovator to take the community into the future,” said Burgess. “This resolution has dozens of volunteers behind it having long conversations in the community to help neighbours understand what is the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, what’s at stake, and how this will benefit Castlegar.”
About 50 community volunteers and supporters for the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy packed the council chambers to hear the resolution pass.
Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Councillor Florio Vassilakakis and Councillor Bergen Price helped keep the renewable energy transition moving through council processes and ensured the community-wide 100% renewable energy goal was included in the successful resolution.
“I voted against the motion because I wanted an even more ambitious commitment from the City to the renewable energy transition,” said Heaton-Sherstobitoff, “but I’m glad we’ve passed a resolution so we can get to work with other like minded cities to figure out the path forward.” Heaton-Sherstobitoff has been a strong advocate of the commitment since the beginning of this campaign.
“I believe buying into the long term vision of emissions free by 2050 is necessary for all communities moving forward,” said Bergen Price. “Before making any decisions as a councillor I want to first ensure that the community is on board. With over 1,100 signatures in Castlegar, 10,000 locally and passed resolutions by Rossland, Slocan, Nelson, New Denver, Silverton and the RDCK, it is safe to say our communities are on board.”
EcoSociety is working with local governments to develop 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.
100 per cent renewable energy means by 2050 Castlegar will be carbon-neutral in heating and cooling, electricity, transportation, and waste management throughout the community with any remaining energy coming from renewable sources. In Canada, cities in BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario and PEI have committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, along with over 100 in the US and over 150 others around the world.
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.