District of North Vancouver takes community feedback
CHRISTINE BEYLEVELDT // NEWS EDITOR
The District of North Vancouver (DNV) is creating a Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) in an effort to define energy use and reduce overall emission rates. Last spring, BC Hydro and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) provided funding to support the creation of the plan, for which Municipal Hall hosted a forum on Feb. 15 to generate ideas and gather feedback from the community. The DNV hopes to have reduced emissions by 33 per cent by 2030 from levels measured in 2007and by 80 per cent by 2050.
Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates, Jeffrey Tumlin, reviewed the DNV’s current sources of emissions, which come from land use, buildings, transportation, energy and waste. Transportation accounts for over half of all emissions, and 31 per cent is from personal vehicles, which is more than all commercial, industrial and residential buildings combined. Tumlin added that the DNV needs to get to a state where buildings are consuming 70 to 80 per cent less energy than they are now in order to meet 2050 targets.
One resident inquired about the future of solar energy, to which Capilano University Sustainability and Facilities Manager Bill Demopoulos said the University hired Stantec Consulting about a year ago, who estimated that in the prime location on CapU’s largest building, solar panels would pay themselves off in 100 years. This is approximately four times the lifespan of the average solar panel, making it a costly investment. “It’s definitely one of the most challenging solar markets right here in North America, in Vancouver because of our extremely cheap and clean electricity,” said Demopoulos, which he added was a benefit, as 95 per cent of electricity produced in BC was coming from hydroelectric dams as of 2014.
However, residents were most interested in incentives to purchase electric cars, which would make a considerable difference in lowering the DNV’s overall emissions. “We’re a little puzzled that it is not catching on as fast as it maybe caught on with us,” said one resident, who asked what the Municipality could do, since most buildings won’t provide the charging infrastructure unless residents already have an electric vehicle at the time they move in. Special Events Assistant from Metro Vancouver, Brendon James, announced that the province plans to release several programs including incentive funding in April and electric vehicle charging rebate to encourage more people to consider electric vehicles as their mode of transport.
Charles Montgomery, Director of Happy City, estimated in order to reach the CEEP’s targets by 2050, the DNV needs to retrofit 18,500 homes. That, on average, means 600 homes per year, beginning with 100 homes and gradually increasing over the next few years need to be retrofitted. He later acknowledged that housing is the number one problem in the Lower Mainland, and that sustainability needs to be brought into the conversation.
Montgomery added that actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions improve overall health and social wellbeing by allowing residents to live longer, healthier lives, and also enjoy better connectivity with each other and the natural environment. “What’s remarkable, and this is data from large American cities, is people who are living in co-op places – walk-able, connected places as opposed to living on the fringe of metropolitan areas – they’re reporting better relationships with their neighbours,” he said. This is something the DNV can already claim to have, but still improve.