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This newsletter provides information about CEA projects, events, and the networks it supports – all aimed at accelerating bold action from local governments and Indigenous communities related to climate and energy.

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This month:

Special edition! See below for summaries of ALL 25 NOMINEES vying for a 2023 CEA Climate & Energy Action Award. Find out more about the awards here.

Prepare to be Inspired

For more than 25 years now, CEA has been inviting municipalities, regional districts, and Indigenous communities around BC to nominate local projects and initiatives for a Climate & Energy Action award. This year, 25 projects have been nominated. Each will be reviewed by a group of judges who have diverse expertise related to community energy and local climate action, and the winners will be announced at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver in September.

In a previous edition of this newsletter, we suggested that these awards are to local climate action officials what the Academy Awards are to actors and movie-makers. Continuing with the analogy, the list below represents those who are spending some time soaking up attention on the red carpet. But this is about more than just shining a spotlight on some interesting projects and initiatives; the real goal is to have the ideas captured in these nominations implemented in other communities – as many as possible!

So enjoy this special edition of CEA’s monthly newsletter, which provides a glimpse into all of the nominees for this year’s Climate & Energy Action awards…. Hopefully you see something from your community below or – even better – some new ideas or inspiration.

A Local Government Guide: Policies, Programs and Incentives to Reduce Embodied Emissions in the Built Environment Collaboration involving Whistler, Squamish, and the Squamish Nation led to the creation of this guide to embodied emissions that organizes potential actions within a hierarchy that encourages actions with the greatest emissions reductions. Within the guide, each action has an impact rating, and "quick wins" are highlighted in each category.

Abbotsford’s Green Civic Buildings Strategy, Framework, and Policy Collaboration with other local governments and internal partners has led to a "Made in Abbotsford" solution for adding and retrofitting civic buildings in ways that recognize affordability, the circumstances of the community, and goals for net zero emissions. The Green Buildings Policy is embedded within existing funding, design, and construction processes and seeks to demystify the reduction of GHG emissions from new and existing civic buildings.

Abbott Street 'Quick Build' Active Transportation Corridor Connecting downtown Kelowna with the Pandosy Urban Centre, this project used cost-effective techniques – such as reusable concrete curbs and more than 50 planter boxes – to create 1.2km of protected bike lanes along Abbott Street for less than a quarter of the cost of the original estimate to rebuild the street. The project was completed in September 2022, after just three weeks of construction work. 


Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District Sort'nGo 3-stream Waste Collection Project Implementation of a three-stream waste collection service that targeted organics diversion along with recycling and garbage in Port Alberni and the West Coast of Vancouver Island has resulted in a 45% reduction of curbside waste going to the landfill in those regions. The program roll-out also involved local First Nations and multiple community groups who assisted with cart storage and delivery to residents and led to an ongoing agreement with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation for cart delivery, repairs, and maintenance services.

Photo credit: Draydan Power

Blue Skies Transportation Initiatives This overarching suite of transportation initiatives in Penticton includes a local eMobility strategy and fleet electrification plan, an EV-ready zoning bylaw for residential and commercial buildings, a fund to purchase and install bike racks, a community engagement program to gather input on preferred locations for charging infrastructure, and installation of bike lanes and EV chargers that also facilitate eBike and scooter charging.


Charge North Involving six regional districts and more than 40 municipalities and First Nations communities, this project added nearly 60 level 2 charging stations on almost 2,800 km of highway from south of Kamloops to Prince George, north to Fort Nelson, along Highway 16, and onto Haida Gwaii. Charge North covers an area equivalent to the size of Italy and has demonstrated the value of collaboration among diverse stakeholders to leverage additional investment while providing EV charging in many rural communities that previously had no reliable public charging infrastructure. 

Photo credit: Heather Keith

District of West Vancouver Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Study for District Fleet Operations A key recommendation from West Vancouver's 2016 corporate energy and emissions plan involved prioritizing electric fleet vehicles, but the lack of a plan for charging was a barrier to implementation. The new long-range plan identifies preferred charging equipment, a conceptual design for installations at District facilities, and future GHG emission reduction associated with transitioning the fleet to EVs over 20 years. New charging stations are now being installed, with more EVs on order this year and next.

Photo credit: Irene Wangler

FireSmart Community Chipping Program With wildfire now one of the most prevalent natural risks in the Okanagan, the City of Kelowna is delivering a community chipping program that facilitates the removal of highly flammable trees and shrubs from private property, addressing financial and logistical barriers of debris removal for residents while prioritizing areas of the city where homes are at greater risk for wildfire. The program started in 2022 and involved more than 250 properties; the 2023 program was subsequently fully subscribed in less than one month. 


Heat Pump Financing Program – This program allows homeowners in the District of Central Saanich to receive an interest-free loan to replace a fossil fuel heating system with an electric heat pump and then pay back the loan over 10 years on their property taxes. This property-assessed clean energy (PACE) program is a pilot for British Columbia and has attracted nearly 50 participants.  


Home Energy Navigator Created by the Capital Regional District, this program connects homeowners throughout the CRD's 13 municipalities and three electoral areas with an energy concierge who provides personal support such as a virtual home energy consultation, quote comparisons, and rebate navigation – all with the intention of increasing the number of low-carbon, home energy retrofits. Since launching in November 2022, the program has attracted more than 450 participants. 


Low-Carbon Leadership Tour Recognizing the early leadership of industry in making investments related to low-carbon products and processes, the City of Prince George collaborated with the local Tourism organization to develop a tour featuring local hydrogen and renewable diesel production, high-performance building components, innovative wood buildings and related research, and a district bioenergy heating system – all unique in Canada. The tour was initiated in conjunction with a large local natural resource conference and has since been delivered for government officials, First Nations, media, and international visitors to the City.

Modern Approach to High-Efficiency Buildings seminar – Hosted by the Town of Creston in June, this in-person workshop for local builders and building trades, building designers and architects, engineers, building officials, energy advisors, and homeowners provided an update on the new BC building code – including the Energy Step Code and Zero Carbon Step Code – while demonstrating how to design and construct buildings that meet and exceed energy-efficiency standards. More than 80 people participated 


Natural Asset Management as a Climate Adaptation Approach The Town of Gibsons pioneered the management of natural assets and was the first municipality in North America to deem nature as a municipal asset and give it the same consideration as traditional capital assets. The community now also notes its natural assets in its annual financial statements and uses predictive modelling tools to better understand its interdependence on and interconnection with nature. 


Port Moody Climate Ready Homes and Buildings Plan (CRHBP) Born from Port Moody's climate action plan, the CRHBP puts the City on a trajectory to achieve net-zero emissions buildings by 2050 by encouraging fuel switching, accelerating requirements for low-emission new construction, addressing embodied emissions, topping up incentives for retrofits, and implementing a zero-emissions building policy for civic facilities.  


Project Greenlight Sustainable Coquitlam: Forging strategic and innovative technology partnerships to support municipal climate action – This project involves the local application of Project Greenlight, which was created by the Vancouver Economic Commission to foster relationships between public sector organizations, businesses, and innovators to accelerate the local deployment of sustainability solutions. Coquitlam’s participation has generated more than 40 applications to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and selected projects can receive pilot funding from the City’s Local Government Climate Action Program (LGCAP) allocation.

Photo credit: Ehsan Haghi

Retrofitting Musqueam homes and public buildings to reduce energy use and GHG emissions This initiative of the Musqueam Housing and Public Works Departments has involved multiple components, including an energy assessment for all public buildings and about 70 homes, installing LED lighting, upgrading the building envelopes for 50 homes, replacing heating/cooling and hot water systems in 30 homes, and initiating a community-wide awareness campaign. The program has demonstrated the foundational importance of energy assessments and community consultation. 


Rossland Retrofit Assist Program This program helps homeowners develop a personalized plan to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and transition to cleaner energy, and subsequently helps to implement these plans by connecting homeowners with skilled professionals and maximizing financial support and rebates. To date, more than 100 homeowners have applied to the program.   


Saanich Community eBike Incentive Pilot Program Even before the Government of BC announced its eBike incentive earlier this year, Saanich was the first municipality in BC to offer incentives to residents for new eBike purchases, with larger incentives for lower-income households. The pilot distributed more than 380 incentives, and Saanich subsequently partnered with researchers at UBC to assess the impact of the pilot project on GHG emissions and the cost-effectiveness of eBike purchase incentives as a GHG mitigation strategy. The final research results are expected in 2024. 


Summerland Solar and Storage Facility –  After more than a decade of identifying renewable energy as a local priority, construction is now underway on a 400kW solar photovoltaic system with a 1MW battery energy storage system being built by local contractors. The project is one part of Summerland's Integrated Solar Project, which aims to strengthen its utility, enhance the local economy, create jobs, and increase energy security and independence. 


The Climate Connections Project: A Collaboratively Designed Education Program to Inspire Exploration, Reflection and Action Together with community groups, the local school district, and the Tk'emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation, the City of Kamloops enhanced a community park and trail to provide experiences and education related to climate change. This includes interpretive signage that features suggested actions and Secwe̓pemc traditional knowledge, a community garden, an outdoor amphitheatre for schools and other community groups, and numerous options for physical activity – all adjacent to a community centre that is fully powered by a visible solar array.

Township of Langley Fleet Electrification Plan This plan presents an operational and financial plan to fully electrify all of the light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles owned by the Township, excluding RCMP vehicles but including those operated by the Fire Department by 2030 (light-duty) and 2040 (medium and heavy-duty). The analysis demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of the move, as well as the significant GHG emission reductions, and has informed successful grant applications for implementing the single-largest expansion of local EV charging infrastructure.   


UBC Climate Resilient Multifamily Residential Design Requirements Responding to research that predicts future climate change, UBC's campus and community planning department is aiming to show how multifamily residential buildings can be built to ensure that they remain comfortable and safe even as summer temperatures are expected to continue to rise. The 2050 Future Climate Ready design requirements are a first in BC and are intended to make the campus a model for other communities. In fact, the technical resources and 'future climate weather files' are available to jurisdictions across the province.  


Zero Carbon Step Code Engagement and Adoption This nomination showcases the work undertaken by the City of Victoria, District of Saanich, District of Central Saanich, and Capital Regional District to engage with building professionals and develop the policy and bylaw amendments necessary to adopt the Zero Carbon Step Code (ZCSC) before it was even rolled out by the Government of BC. As a result, the municipalities will be the first in BC to have the ZCSC take effect, and the RD will be the first regional government to adopt the ZCSC. Their collaboration will also provide industry with predictability over the long term. 


Zero Emissions Economic Transition Action Plan (ZEETAP) Focused on accelerating the GHG emission reduction targets of the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, and CleanBC, ZEETAP assists businesses in taking climate-positive action and ensuring workers have the skills and supporters necessary to deliver projects that will reduce GHGs in a prosperous and inclusive way. The plan works to make it easier to get climate information and make climate solutions more affordable, profitable, scalable, accessible to consumers, and centred around justice and equity – maximizing the economic opportunities associated with climate action while minimizing the challenges and costs. 

Zunga Bus On-Demand Pilot & Transit System Revamp This project in Powell River is addressing a long-time challenge in delivering reliable transit in smaller communities: providing service in low-density areas. This has led to long routes and infrequent service that can result in hour-long trips that would otherwise be covered in five minutes in a car. Powell River’s Zunga Bus (a 12-seat van) is BC’s first on-demand transit service that is allowing the City to focus its transit efforts on one, streamlined route through main corridors. 


In Conclusion...

Good luck to all of the nominees and remember to share these stories of success in order to inspire more climate action in communities all over BC.

Watch for the winners to be announced at UBCM.

THANK YOU to the sponsors of CEA’s awards program!