(Submitted photo)

Warfield aims for 100% renewable energy transition

Carbon neutrality and renewable energy are goals for the village over the next 30 years

Warfield council has committed to bringing the village to a state of carbon neutrality – and becoming 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy – over the next 30 years.

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What that means is village leaders have pledged that the municipality will become carbon-neutral in heating and cooling, electricity, transportation, and waste management, with any remaining energy coming from renewable sources.

“Our first step is to meet with the planner from the West Kootenay EcoSociety who specializes in sustainable energy,” says Mayor Diane Langman, referring to Matt Murray, a “Climate Change Manager.”

“He will assist us in understanding how we can take concrete steps in a fiscally responsible way to eventually become 100 per cent renewable energy.”

With any change comes cost. So, how will a small town with a limited tax base, like Warfield, pay for new technology in the coming years?

“The thing to keep in mind is that this transition is over the next 30 years, we suspect that any financial costs would parallel any costs we would normally see with inflation,” Langman explained.

“And hydroelectric power is considered renewable energy, so we are already on our way.”

She says Warfield council sees this commitment as an innovative opportunity to actively position the village to be healthier, safer, and stronger. Furthermore, community insight will guide future decision-making and actions.

“We will not see any increase in taxes nor will there be any costs associated with the plan we create over the next year,” Langman emphasized. “And we are very excited to work collaboratively with our neighbouring communities and the EcoSociety’s planner to create a regional plan as well as a specific plan for our community. We can then implement parts of the plan as finances and resources are available and when it makes financial sense to do so,” she said.

“This is the beginning of a long, carefully considered process that will have many opportunities for community input, feedback and public engagement.”

This commitment came at the request of the West Kootenay EcoSociety, making Warfield the eighth local government in the region to sign on to completely transition to clean energy by 2050.

“On behalf of the Village of Warfield council, we are so excited and proud to join the 100 per cent Renewable Kootenays initiative,” Langman continued.

“Our council has been looking at how to work towards initiatives such as this, however, it was overwhelming. Where do we start? How do we move this past a ‘feel good’ initiative and actually start to take tangible action and make a difference now and for our future generations?”

Langman says she quickly discovered that the village is not alone in feeling swamped by this issue, so meeting with the EcoSociety prior to Dec. 4 council was affirming.

The group outlined benefits of clean energy transition prior to council’s vote, and committed to helping the village develop a strategy to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 as part of a regional plan.

“We aren’t the only ones overwhelmed with the process,” Langman said. “And we are incredibly thankful to the West Kootenay EcoSociety and the initiative that they have taken, and we are excited to work with other communities on a more regional transition plan that encompasses all the West Kootenay communities to show that, even though we may be small, we are mighty and we can make a difference.”

By passing the resolution last week, Warfield joins Castlegar, Silverton, Slocan, New Denver, Rossland, Nelson, and the Regional District of Central Kootenay in their commitment to use renewable energy in all energy use in the community, including heating and cooling, transportation, electricity and waste management.

“Warfield is an amazing place to live, and our mayor and council want to plan positively for the future,” said Coun. Cyra Yunkws. “By committing to work with others in our region, and the EcoSociety, we feel that we will be well positioned to face economic, social and environmental change,” she said.

“I am so proud that our community is the 16th municipality in Canada, and eighth in our region to commit to 100 per cent renewable by 2050.”

The 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.

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.


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