RDEK to buy carbon offsets

The Regional District of East Kootenay board grudgingly passed a motion to purchase carbon offsets after debate on December 7.

The Regional District of East Kootenay board grudgingly passed a motion to purchase carbon offsets after debate at Friday’s regular meeting on December 7.

The motion stated that the RDEK would purchase carbon offsets from the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Darkwoods project for 2012. The board pledged in 2007 to be carbon neutral by 2013, but at the board’s last meeting in November, they admitted they had not yet reached that goal. At that time, the board decided to put off the vote to allow more discussion.

The motion came before the board at the December 7 meeting and it passed, although several directors voiced their concerns.

Electoral Area A director Mike Sosnowski said he would vote in favour, however admitted that he was doing so because of the commitment the board entered into when they signed the Regional Climate Action Charter.

“I’m voting in favour of this because we have a commitment,” he said.

District of Elkford mayor Dean McKerracher said he had concerns that the charter was signed when former Premier Gordon Campbell was at the helm of the province, and that current premier Christy Clark is no longer committed to the program.

“When we signed this agreement we had a different premier,” he said.

McKerracher ultimately opposed the motion, but it was carried. The carbon offsets will cost the RDEK $18,000, or $25 per ton. That money will go towards the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Darkwoods project near Creston.

At a governance committee meeting on Thursday, November 1, CNK project manager Dale Littlejohn gave the RDEK board of directors an overview of how the regional districts have worked towards carbon neutrality since 2007.

The Kootenay governments spend about $11 million a year on energy – to heat buildings, power lights, and move their vehicles between 388 buildings and 995 vehicles.

Energy assessments in municipal buildings, wastewater treatment plants and recreation facilities have saved the governments about $750,000 in energy savings.

Planning manager Andrew McLeod explained to the board on November 2 that after all of the energy savings, the RDEK still has to account for 730 tonnes of GHG emissions.