Grand Forks makes reductions but still pushing towards carbon neutrality

The City of Grand Forks has taken steps to reduce its carbon emissions but is still short of a 30 per cent target set by the province.

The City of Grand Forks has taken steps to reduce its carbon emissions but is still short of a 30 per cent target set by the province.

“If you find a community in B.C. that has, you’ll have to let me know,” stated Chief Administration Officer Lynne Burch. “We’re going to have to buy carbon off-sets.”

Carbon off-sets are bought in order to comply with caps and the total amount of carbon dioxide the city is allowed to emit.

Cecile Arnott, the city’s chief financial officer, said, “You’re looking at approximately $8,000 for 2012, but with our care grants, there will be a net impact of zero (in 2012).”

Every community, which factors city operations and not the entire residential portion of the city, in British Columbia had to have a benchmark-starting place when the initiative began in 2007.

Grand Forks’ benchmark began at 420 tons.

“We are now down to 330 tons,” explained Burch. “In our sustainability plan, our goal is to reduce our carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. We’re already down by 23 per cent, so we’ve done a huge bit since 2007.”

Grand Forks’ community-wide target, which is set in the City Sustainable Community Plan, set a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 33 per cent below the 2007 level by 2030.

“We have a long time to go, but almost already there,” noted Burch.

“(The provincial government) was looking for how we did it, because they said we were one of the best in the province.”

Part of the reason the city of Grand Forks has done so well is because older vehicles were replaced with newer vehicles, including one hybrid.

“We’re driving our vehicles less miles because we’re driving less vehicles,” stated Burch. “Our City Works staff, when they go to a worksite, they all double up in the trucks, so they don’t go one by one.”

With staff sharing vehicles, gas consumption is also decreasing, Burch pointed out.

Arnott added, “Gas and diesel produce one of the highest green house gas emissions, and then electricity. Those are the biggest culprits for gas emissions.”

Besides the change in vehicles, Mayor Brian Taylor is hoping further technical breakthroughs will be able to be applied within the city.

“We’ve taken down all the low-hanging fruit (such as changing vehicles), and I hate that term, but now we’re left with other items that take capital investment,” explained Taylor.

“We could go for a whole fleet of electric vehicles but those are kinds of technology that will hopefully become more obtainable and easier to attain for the city.”

At this point, since the city can’t afford such a large investment, it will be looking at various ways it can lower consumption and gas emissions, the mayor concluded.

Along with the changes in vehicles, the city has adopted an anti-idling bylaw and has committed to replacing and replanting trees whenever a tree has been removed or lost due to weather.

The city is working alongside the Boundary Air Quality Committee, who is exploring solar initiatives.

Grand Forks Gazette