Consultants Megan Lohmann and Michael Wilson prepared the City of Revelstoke's Community Energy and Emissions Plan, which is currently in draft form.

Consultants Megan Lohmann and Michael Wilson prepared the City of Revelstoke's Community Energy and Emissions Plan, which is currently in draft form.

City unveils draft of new Community Energy and Emissions Plan

The City of Revelstoke has released their draft Community Energy and Emissions Plan, the document that sets our the community’s plans to reduce emissions and increase efficiency.



The City of Revelstoke has released their draft Community Energy and Emissions Plan, the document that sets our the community’s plans to reduce emissions and increase efficiency.

The draft document shows where the rubber will hit the road (preferably bicycle tires) in the coming years and decades. The “CEEP” process has been ongoing for months now, gathering ideas and input. What’s different about the draft plan is that concrete ideas and plans are actually taking shape.

The report, which is available on the City of Revelstoke’s home page (www.cityofrevelstoke.com) is a must read for environmentalists, developers, engineers, educators, homeowners, taxpayers and anyone interested in the community’s future. The city is gathering public input on the plan through February.

What’s also becoming clear is how much the plan will bleed into many aspects of civic life; it’s much more than beefed up idling bylaws or more fuel efficient vehicles for city hall.

Some of the eye-openers in the plan include:

– Expanded cycling infrastructure to support year-round cycling, including snow-cleared bike lanes, covered bike racks, lockers and better signage.

– Possible bylaws mandating that new high-density developments be connected to the city’s district energy system.

– Installation of a landfill gas collection system at the Revelstoke landfill.

– Expansion of Revelstoke’s District Energy System to areas including the highway corridor, south-central Revelstoke and the resort area.

These are a few of the projects outlined in the 60-page report that jump off the page. It contains dozens more recommendations.

The Jan. 17 report was written by consultants Megan Lohmann and Michael Wilson, and is entitled City of Revelstoke Community Energy and Emissions Plan. The city’s planning department held a flurry of meetings last week to engage stakeholders and the public on the plan.

About 50 people came to a working dinner on Jan. 20, including representatives from groups who funded the study such as the Columbia Basin Trust and the federal government.

At its core, the CEEP sets a proposed new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target of 8 per cent by 2020, up from the existing city target of 6 per cent. The reduction is based on 2007 emissions, and will include all emissions from any new development and population. In addition, the plan sets a new target of 15 per cent reductions by 2030 — there was no target for 2030 previously.

Much of the document is technical in nature, focusing on background, methodology and ways the city can integrate the new plans and policies into the existing plans, policies and bylaws.

Another section weighs opportunities to reduce emissions and judges them on criteria that includes cost and benefits. It uses these criteria to recommend some and rule out others.

Consultant Megan Lohmann told the Times Review the eight per cent target was “realistic” and expects the community will meet it for several reasons. The reasons include the CEEP plan, but also legislation from other levels of government, expected increases in energy costs and anticipated technological efficiency improvements in things like cars and home efficiency. “Energy costs will continue to increase,” Lohmann said, but, “Opportunities to become more efficient will increase.”

She said one of Revelstoke’s unique characteristics was the existence of the district energy system operated by the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation (RCEC). Many other communities were just now exploring how to do their own, so Revelstoke was ahead of the curve. “It just gives Revelstoke a head start on some community planning opportunities,” she added.

She emphasized the need for a progressive, policy-driven approach to the reduction plan, but also called for participation by everyday community members. “I would encourage people to not feel as through any action is too small,” she added.

In addition to the ones listed above, the plan outlines many more specific actions, some of them long-term, some more immediate. Here are some of the highlights of the recommendations:

– Focus on development within the planned expansion areas for the District Energy System. The plan is to determine where to expand the system and then put rules in place to encourage high-density development in those areas.

– Expand the existing car-share program. The Nelson Car Share Co-op currently has a Revelstoke chapter. The plan is to consider subsidies for the program, and possibly subsidized memberships for city staff.

– Make the shuttle to Revelstoke Mountain Resort permanent and increase hours and frequency.

– Develop an energy-efficient parking strategy that could include public charging stations for electric cars and reduced parking requirements for businesses and multi-family developments. Another idea is to implement pay parking at Revelstoke Mountain Resort to encourage bus use.

– Develop a package of low-cost energy efficiency products for homeowners to be sold at cost, or be subsidized.

– Implementation of curbside recycling this year and study expansion to multi-family developments and businesses.

– Expanded backyard composting and eventually curbside organics recycling.

– Expansive public education and engagement plan. Suggestions for the plan are broad-ranging.

– Develop a program that will help homeowners learn about the best energy retrofits for their homes.

– Train building designers and the construction sector on commercial and residential retrofits.

– Develop education and engagement programs for the hotel and hospitality sector.

Public comment on the plan will close at the end of February. The plan has already been sent to outside stakeholders for review, such as provincial ministries.

Following public review, council will deliberate the plan, and then will vote on whether to adopt concepts outlined in it.

District energy system expansion studied

A parallel report on the feasibility of expanding the city’s district energy system was also presented last week.

Currently, the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation operates the existing system, which burns waste wood at a facility at Downie Timber Ltd. and then pipes the energy to larger buildings downtown, and to the high school.

The report mainly explores technical feasibility.

It finds district heating systems would be viable in scenarios to implement it in several Revelstoke neighourhoods, but the viability would hinge on increased density in future developments in neighbourhoods including the highway corridor, south and central Revelstoke, and the resort area.

Neigbourhood-sized plants are preferable to big, centralized systems, as the latter are overly-dependent on demand, vulnerable to technical issues and are cost-prohibitive due to the cost for pipes and other infrastructure.

The report finds the system would reduce greehouse gas emissions from propane use, and would also lower electricity usage.

However, the district energy expansion report also suggests broader policy changes to tilt the playing field in favour of district energy.

They suggest introducing new rules that would help foster denser neighbourhoods near proposed energy plants and also require new, dense developments to hook into the system. “A mix of city policy tools that promote connection and capital incentives for hydronic conversion would enable greater connection rates, increasing energy self-reliance, as well as reducing GHG emissions and electricity consumption,” writes consultant Taylor Zeeg of Compass Resource Management in his report.

Other ideas outlined in the report include developing technology to burn cedar waste in new plants, working with Revelstoke Mountain Resort to identify opportunities there, and generally study future development plans for Revelstoke to get a better picture of future neighbourhood densities.

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Do you have more information to add to this story? Contact Aaron Orlando at 250-837-4667 or editor@revelstoketimesreview.com.

Revelstoke Times Review