If you haven’t voted yet, Kelowna candidate responses about climate change should matter the most in your decision.
The United Nations gave us 12 years to drastically reduce carbon emissions to avoid climate catastrophe. Kelowna is seeing early impacts with floods and fires. Knowing this we have an ethical obligation to act swiftly and elect candidates at all levels that will take bold climate leadership.
Unlike other questionnaires to Kelowna’s municipal candidates where responses are full of similar politically friendly responses or self-congratulation, the Capital News climate change responses show some true colours of what candidates are prepared to do, if anything.
If you want a livable city that’s built to minimize future taxation and will lower your carbon footprint, I offer you this cheat sheet to interpret candidate responses:
1. Kelowna didn’t meet its 2017 community GHG goals and adopted new targets that are weaker than the province. While the 2018 Community Action Plan includes several ambitious actions that will require bold leadership by city council to implement, most candidate responses don’t align with the urgent action required.
2.Fifty-five per cent of Kelowna’s carbon footprint is from transportation, 36 per cent is from buildings, and 9 per cent is from waste. The priorities have to be on moving people around efficiently and making buildings use less energy.
3. Kelowna needs to build homes for 50,000 more people by 2040. Eighty-six per cent of existing homes in Kelowna are auto-dependent sprawl. Increasing density is necessary to reduce per capita servicing costs and to make alternatives to driving viable. Fortunately, Growth Scenario 3 was most popular. A more sprawl-oriented Scenario 2.5 prepared for council is the wrong direction.
4. Kelowna is at peak car and can’t handle more. It’s not for a lack of roads, but because of a significant deficiency of viable alternatives for most people and cheap parking the city can’t afford. Electric vehicles won’t solve congestion and won’t come soon enough. Every transportation dollar needs to be looked at how it will move people more efficiently. Kelowna needs to prioritize expanding rapid transit throughout our city core, to help families avoid the expense of owning a second car instead of allocating millions more on congestion inducing roads as many candidates have.
5. Kelowna’s inefficient buildings need to be retrofitted, but we also need to build new buildings efficiently so we won’t need to retrofit them in the future. The BC Energy Step Code can enable the industry to provide more efficient homes, but its adoption is in jeopardy.
6. Kelowna is heavily influenced by the business community. It’s time for them to stand up, speak up, and lead. A climate change task force is required to enable and defend strong climate action in our community.
We can achieve positive impacts on city economics, infrastructure, transportation, livability, and affordability if we take action on climate change. For all of our sake, I hope there are at least five candidates you can trust for the majority of council votes to lead us to a better future.