BC's Zero Carbon Step Code
A new provincial Zero Carbon Step Code law came into effect on May 1st, 2023 allowing local governments to limit the greenhouse gas emissions of new buildings. We are thrilled that Victoria and Saanich councils have already voted to require new buildings to meet the most stringent emission limits within the next 6 to 18 months (depending on the building type), and we want Nanaimo to follow suit.
We need to make it clear to the mayor and council that residents want them to get gas out of new buildings as soon as possible. It makes no sense to set up new buildings to burn gas while we are racing to get existing gas furnaces converted to electric heat pumps in order to meet the city's goal of cutting local emissions in half by 2030.
For more information, check out the following links or the meeting agenda document:
Governance and Priorities Committee Result
In the lead-up to the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on July 26th, the mayor and council received over 60 personalized messages from residents, urging them to adopt the zero carbon step code (ZCSC) as quickly as possible (in addition to over 50 messages back in June). The Nanaimo News Bulletin published our opinion piece about the ZCSC on the day of the meeting. At the meeting (video recording and documents will be posted here), 23 people attended wearing badges in support of the initiative, and five brave residents made speeches. These speeches were incredibly eloquent and demonstrated a high level of knowledge and passion. A FortisBC representative spoke as well, with themes of wanting to have a seat at the decision-making table; being on board with the ultimate goal of net-zero emissions but wanting the transition to go more slowly; and side-stepping questions about exactly how much captured methane is actually available within BC. Council heard from BC Hydro representatives, who explained that because electrification is happening more quickly than they expected, they've initiated a call for new electricity generation projects two years ahead of their earlier plan, so that new projects (likely solar and wind) can be up and running by 2028 when they now expect additional power will be needed. A rep from the Canadian Homebuilders Association spoke in opposition to the proposed timeline, arguing that we should just go with the provincially mandated timeline of requiring the zero carbon level starting in 2030. Three people in the local construction industry presented - one was opposed and two were in favour of the proposed 2024 timeline. Mark Bernhardt, of Bernhardt Contracting noted that most of the homes they currently build would already meet the zero carbon level of the new step code.
In the end, Mayor Leonard Krog and Councillors Janice Perrino, Paul Manly, Tyler Brown, Hilary Eastmure, and Ben Geselbracht all voted in favour of the proposed timeline to adopt the highest level of the zero carbon step code as of July 1, 2024. Councillors Ian Thorpe, Sheryl Armstrong, and Erin Hemmens were not present at the meeting. That vote was for the Governance and Priorities Committee to recommend to council that they direct staff to prepare the bylaw amendments for this policy change. One more vote is still required at the next council meeting on August 28th in order to go ahead with that direction to staff. We are hopeful that there is strong enough support on council for this to move through the remaining procedural steps, but we will keep you posted if more public pressure is needed.
Council Vote Upcoming
There was a council meeting August 28th in which the council voted on whether or not to accept the Zero Carbon Step Code. Here is a copy of the letter we sent the Mayor and Council.
The council voted 5-4 in favour of accepting the accelerated zero carbon step code which will take effect in July 2024. Although we are disappointed that two of the yes votes from the GPC meeting changed to no votes this time, we are thrilled that the motion passed.
While the vote was successful, residents who are unhappy about the decision are making their opinions known through letters to the editor and messages to city councillors. Councillors need our support and encouragement for their brave decision, and politicians everywhere need to see that there is plenty of public support for moves like this.
If you could write letters to the editor in favour, post positive comments to Facebook, the News Bulletin’s Beefs and Bouquets, and/or email your thanks to mayor&council (email@example.com), that would be terrific.
If you need more information on the benefits of the Zero Carbon Step Code, you can find it on our website, nanaimoclimateaction.org.
Dover Bay Eco Club: Bonnie Huynh, Ulricke Bucksteg-Neuhoff, Mikaela Sumile, Tian Liang