Why renewable energy?
The health, economic well-being, and safety of community members in the West Kootenay Region are of great concern for our local governments. Recognizing that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is a powerful way to address these priorities, eight municipalities and the Regional District of Central Kootenay have passed resolutions pledging to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050 across community-wide energy use in transportation, heating & cooling, electricity and waste management. The West Kootenay 100% Renewable Energy Plan is the result of a collaborative effort to identify pathways for participating communities to make progress toward these renewable energy goals. As the political and technological context changes over the coming years, of course, it will be necessary to update the plan with new actions.
The 100% Renewable Energy Vision: By 2050…
People, goods, and services moving around the West Kootenays will generate no carbon pollution;
The West Kootenay will be home to efficient, renewably powered, high-performance buildings;
A sustainable, circular economy is the foundation of the West Kootenay Region with close to zero waste; and
The region’s energy needs are met by a mix of clean, renewable sources in a distributed grid that eliminates carbon pollution, promotes energy independence and delivers local community benefits.
For the past year, West Kootenay EcoSociety has been working in close collaboration with the nine local government partners to help make the 100% Renewable Kootenays pledge into a reality. The West Kootenay 100% Renewable Energy Plan identifies the actions that local governments can take, and it measures the associated impact the actions will have on carbon pollution and energy use.
The plan is built around five Big Moves, each of which includes a variety of policy, infrastructure, and outreach actions to help community members save money and reduce pollution in their daily lives. The Big Moves address:
- How we move around, including electrification of passenger vehicles, public transit, walking, biking and other modes of active transportation, and decarbonizing commercial vehicles;
- The buildings where we live, work and play;
- What we use (and throw away), including composting, landfill gas capture, and landfill diversion;
- How we generate energy; and
- How local government operations can contribute.
Local governments have limits on their policy authority. Where they don’t have the ability to set policy, local governments may need to engage in advocacy to other levels of government to achieve their renewable energy goals. These advocacy activities are described in the plan, but the results are not – it’s too difficult to predict how other levels of government will respond.
Not all members of the community experience the impacts of local government action in the same way. This plan strives to ensure the benefits of actions extend to those who are less privileged and/or who are underrepresented in the policy- and decision-making processes.
Through this collaboration and advocacy, these local governments are taking an important next step on the long journey to 100% renewable energy. Each community will move at its own pace, and the regional collaboration will help to identify and share resources. The coronavirus pandemic has brought unexpected challenges to the region, but it has also revealed strengths and created opportunities to recognize shared needs and values: well-being, resilience, and community. The local governments will draw on communities’ strengths to adjust timing and priorities to adapt to these and other challenges as they work to implement the plan over the next several years.
This project is a collaboration by West Kootenay EcoSociety and Sustainable Kootenays, and was made possible by funding from:
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities
- Patagonia Environmental Grants Fund of Tides Foundation
- Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia
- Regional District of Central Kootenay
- Regional District of Kootenay Boundary
- Sitka Foundation