Castlegar city council and residents celebrate Castlegar’s commitment to the 100 per cent renewable energy transition. Photo submitted

Castlegar council approves 2050 renewable energy plan

City was last holdout in region to adopt West Kootenay EcoSociety’s measure

Another West Kootenay community has signed on to a drive to move its operations to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.

Castlegar city council voted last week to join other Kootenay cities and towns working to use only renewable energy sources for heating and cooling, transportation, electricity and waste management.

By doing so, Castlegar becomes the seventh local government in the West Kootenay and the 15th in Canada to pass such a council resolution.

The city joins 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.

About 50 community volunteers and supporters for the transition packed the council chambers to hear the resolution pass.

West Kootenay EcoSociety asked Castlegar 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 EcoSociety hopes the West Kootenay can become the largest geographic area in the country to commit to the transition to clean energy. Ten thousand 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.”

Council on board

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 per cent 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 councillor Sue 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.”

“I believe buying into the long term vision of emissions free by 2050 is necessary for all communities moving forward,” said councillor 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 per cent 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.

The plan is designed to have Castlegar be carbon-neutral in heating and cooling, electricity, transportation, and waste management throughout the community. As well, any remaining energy should come from renewable sources. In Canada, cities in B.C., Saskatchewan, Ontario and P.E.I. have committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, along with over 100 in the U.S. and over 150 others around the world.

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