The City of Rossland might not be designated carbon neutral in 2013 if a new recommendation is passed by City council next week.
A City staff recommendation is going against precedence set in 2012 to spend carbon tax dollars on carbon offsets—thus making City operations carbon neutral—for the next council meeting May 13.
City staff is recommending council approve a plan to take the nearly $10,000 it received back from the province recently in carbon tax grants from the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP), and put it into a reserve fund for future energy efficient programs.
If approved, that means the City would not be carbon neutral according to the province’s guidelines, and it would be deemed “working towards” carbon neutrality” and still eligible to receive the grant in the short term.
When the City signed to be carbon neutral by 2012, it was found that, along with nearly all of the provincial signatories, it wasn’t able to achieve carbon neutrality, nor was the province’s own reporting program fully functioning or its carbon offset programs.
“We needed more time to be carbon neutral,” said Stacey Lightbourne, City planner and GIS technician. “The province said we had to show to be working towards carbon neutrality. Some time in the future, who knows, the province may require that (we) actually become carbon neutral. In which case, (we) will have to use offset projects.”
Last year the City was part of the highly publicized Darkwoods carbon offset partnership program with Carbon Neutral Kootenays, along with three regional districts and several major Kootenay municipalities, and contributed over $7,000.
The City was going to put the $9,916 in CARIP grants from this year towards paying for offsets to become carbon neutral— to reduce its carbon emissions—but a new provincial ruling on the program cast the merit of that move into doubt.
CARIP money is basically the carbon tax the City paid in its operations for the last year. The City gets the money back because it had signed onto the Climate Action Charter that said it would be carbon neutral by 2012.
The money could become seed money for local carbon offset projects that the City’s Planning department and its Sustainability Commission are working on.
Carbon Neutral Kootenays, which had previously recommended the Darkwoods project, is now not recommending giving money to the project, saying instead to put it into local climate action reserve funds.
Darkwoods was an obvious choice in 2012 but it didn’t reduce emsissions locally, said Lightbourne.
“So I think a lot of other local governments, at least in the Kootenays, will be doing the same thing,” she said.
The City’s energy task force and the sustainability commission are trying to get council to think about reducing emissions locally that, although may cost more, will actually reduce emissions locally.
CARIP is a conditional grant program that provides funding to Climate Action Charter signatories. Communities that have signed the Climate Action Charter and report publicly on their progress toward meeting their climate action goals receive a grant equivalent to 100 per cent of the carbon tax they pay directly, for a total of more than $6.2 million province-wide in 2012.
Trail received $30,488, Warfield $3,580, Castlegar $14,734, Fruitvale, $2,917, the Regional District of Central Kootenay $33,407 and Montrose $2,082.
In 2008, the Regional District of East Kootenay and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary started the Carbon Neutral Kootenays project. The City of Rossland’s baseline inventory was compiled for the year 2008 at the time.
The City of Rossland amended its Official Community Plan early in 2010 to bring the municipality into compliance with Bill 27 and to set a greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) a target of 33 per cent below Rossland’s 2007 GHG emissions’ levels by 2020.
Carbon neutral projects for next year
• Complete the water meter incentive program and reach 100 per cent compliance in installing water meters.
• Continue to offer spring and fall cleanup program for organic waste to reduce individual vehicle traffic to the landfill in Trail and to reduce illegal dumping of waste.
• Continue to support Sustainability Commission in education and planning initiatives.
• Adopt new subdivision and servicing bylaw that is resilient to climate change.
– Continue to lobby BC Transit for increase bus service to Red Mountain.
• Continue to implement Active Transportation Plan.
• Complete two kilometres of trail connecting Lower Rossland to Upper Rossland and the downtown to the museum.
Community grant cashout
The province handed out a sack of cash to Kootenay communities in its latest Strategic Community Investment Fund (SCIF), an unconditional grant payment the province makes from its general revenues to municipalities across the province.
With a total of over $450,000 coming to the Greater Trail area—and $1.23 million to the West Kootenay Boundary—the SCIF grant includes the traffic fine revenue sharing program and small community and regional district grants.
Each community uses the cash injection to help flesh out its budget, but how that cash is used varies with each municipality.
Rossland will have $84,075 come its way, but Trail received the largest overall instalment of cash at $106,698 in the West Kootenay-Boundary, including $22,269 from traffic fine revenue.
Trail was the only community in the Greater Trail region to receive traffic fine revenue.
The traffic fine revenue sharing program funding helps offset the cost of policing and community safety, with Trail using its allotment for the city to employ two extra Crime Reduction Unit RCMP officers to provide a “higher level of service.” Those officers also serve Rossland.
Only communities that pay for policing—like Trail, Nelson and Castlegar—received the traffic fine revenue.
The grants come from ticket fines and court-imposed fines on violation tickets, and the amount of money a municipality receives is based on its contribution to total municipal policing costs.
Fruitvale was given $80,678, Warfield garnered $79,362, while the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary received $35,823. Montrose was allotted $70,168.