Montrose on board with energy and emissions program

"“Montrose wants to be a player, like everyone else, to reduce energy and emissions that can move us closer to our target." ~ Joe Danchuk

Now’s the opportune time for towns and small cities to invest in a SCEEP.

Montrose joins Rossland, Castlegar and Creston in developing a SCEEP, otherwise known as a Strategic Community Energy and Emissions Plan – which is a living document that identifies viable ways each community can conserve energy while reducing emission of gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.

Funded with $8,000 from FortisBC PowerSense and $6,000 through Columbia Basin Trust, the village’s plan was developed following a workshop facilitated by the Community Energy Association in mid-November.

Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk and staff, gathered with representatives from Interior Health, Lower Columbia Initiative Corporation, the regional district and the Village of Fruitvale over two days and built an action plan after looking at energy, emissions, and energy expenditures for the community as a whole.

“Montrose wants to be a player, like everyone else, to reduce energy and emissions that can move us closer to our target which is carbon neutral,” says Danchuk. “This really helps us, by guiding us, toward those goals.”

Overall, the SCEEP is another resource in the village’s Strategic Planning Action adopted by Montrose council that supports increasing energy efficiency and transitioning to more local renewable sources of energy; motivating community members to participate in community and regional decision-making processes; and participation in regional collaborative initiatives.

“SCEEP is trying to incorporate community-wide action,” explained Bryan Teasdale, Montrose’s chief administrative officer. “We can’t control whether someone drives or carpools to work, or drives to the post office to get their mail,” he said. “Because we are more a bedroom community to the City of Trail, a lot of our SCEEP is based on transportation so we’ll work with the regional district (through East End Services) with transportation planning,” Teasdale added.

“And also try to get the word out for local people to try and make better decisions to reduce their carbon emissions as well – that’s what SCEEP is. Most of it is volunteer and not something we can enforce, but we can be the vehicle to get information to residents, like grants…so they can make a decision moving forward.”

Generally, the program identifies target emission reductions between five and 25 per cent by developing an action plan that incorporates ongoing measures such as promoting walking trails such as new pathways at Lions Park, installing more bike racks, improving highway crosswalks with better markings signage and lighting, and fostering use of public transit.

“The village is the tool that people can use to interface all the things that are going to make us more energy efficient as a community,” said the mayor, mentioning infrastructure improvements like street design, the regional wood stove program, and upping the appeal of public transportation.

“We have a number of wood burners in Montrose and we can work with the regional district and Interior Health to explain how burning wood more efficiently is better for the environment and people in our community.”

More ambitious plans could include using e-trucks for public works, organics diversion (composting) through the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, supporting energy efficient building codes and possibly powering sewer treatment through solar panels.

“We are in the first group of municipalities to have a SCEEP,” Danchuk said. “It’s all new to us and we are just hoping to help our residents move forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Communities have influence over approximately 40 per cent of green house gas (GHG) emissions in B.C. and are a key partner in reducing GHGs, according to the province’s Climate Leadership Team.

Since Bill 27 passed in 2008, municipalities and regional districts are required to include targets, policies and actions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their communities in their Official Community Plan and Regional Growth Strategies.

Provincial targets being recommended by the new leadership team that includes First Nations, local governments, and academia, are reducing GHG emissions at least 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020 and at least 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050.

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