A group of Cranbrook citizens gathered outside of City Hall to protest for climate action on Friday, Dec. 6.
They met with Kev Marshall, energy manager for the City, who discussed with them some strategies the city is implementing or plans to implement to reduce it’s environmental impact going forward.
“I think it was great, super helpful. It’s really exciting to hear about some of the cutting edge solutions that we can work on here and they make sense,” said protest organizer Sue Cairns. So it’s about figuring out what we need to do to support those going forward and being informed, how we can contribute.”
Marshall began by explaining Cranbrook’s signing on to Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) back in 2015. A total of 147 communities report to this program, with 50 of them having achieved carbon neutrality.
“It’s put together to try to encourage municipalities to do something related to climate action,” Marshall said. “It covers the cities costs of carbon taxation, we put a carbon tax on our people in the country of Canada and if we partake in this program it covers that tax. until a a future time when we actually have to pay for it.”
Marshall said that most of the communities that have achieved carbon neutrality are small governments including the RDEK, but larger municipalities like Cranbrook have a bigger challenge, as we manage the garbage, cleaning and sweeping trucks.
However, he said that Cranbrook has managed to achieve a 31 per cent reduction in the city’s green house gas emissions from corporate operations. He said this is due to a general reduction in operations and changes made to some of the mechanical infrastructure currently in place.
“You can imagine what takes up most of that energy,” Marshall told the group gathered at City Hall. “It’s the Rec Centre and it’s the recreation services. It’s very much a community burden in a way. We take part in that recreation, we enjoy it, it keeps us healthy. Our job is really to make sure it’s sustainable, that the equipment and the operations are really effective and there’s a lot of things we can do.”
He said the city is taking part in all the incentivized programs that are offered. One of them is the LED lighting that has been installed in the majority of corporate buildings and in many of the streetlights.
“So it’s coming together, we have to take responsibility for this and find all the incredible, creative ways we can solve these problems,” Marshall said. “We take advantage of every incentive we can.”
He also mentioned the city’s micro-generation pressure-reducing valves (PRVs). One of these stations is set up at Idlewild park, which reduces water pressure and create a source of energy.
“It’s as simple as a fat pipe used to run straight through and a fatter pipe kept going,” he explained. “We reduce that down to the type of flow that’s actually needed and all that energy that comes out of that process you can light Idlewild park for example, we have one of those up at Idlewild so we can change the lighting and allow that to run right from the micro gen station.”
Marshall said he’d like to hear feedback and ideas from the crowd and the people of Cranbrook in general about what kinds of projects they’d like to see the city tackle.
“I’m part time,” Marshall said. “And the creative space that the City has given me is if I can find funding for anything specific they will let me add that to my job profile. They will let me bring in that funding and then serve that for the city. So if we have a specific strategy that we want more attention to, I can go out there and find funding and the city will give me the authority to sort of move into that space and to do something.”
One of the concerns brought up is Cranbrook implementing more effective codes for build designs, which Marshall said is an important issue
“A building standard is sort of like your individual standards, the kind of personal standards you hold yourselves to, it sort of attracts the type of people that come into your life,” he said. “We definitely want a very high effective build standard in Cranbrook so we can attract effective builders.”
He said in the future we will see new developments include triple-glazed windows and more insulated houses without electric baseboards.
READ MORE: MBSS students march for climate action
The meeting outside of City Hall was less a debate on the realities of climate change, or whether humans are impacting climate change, rather, it was solely to discuss ways in which the city can, or already is, mitigating its impact on the environment.
“We’re not here to debate,” Cairns said. “We’re not here to debate climate change, we’re here to talk about solutions and get on board. We need to work with what we have and it only makes sense to pick up on the innovative work that’s underway and let’s do what we can. There’s a lot of things that just make sense here, let’s get on with it.”
Marshall told the crowd that as taxpayers, it’s their money that City Council spends as their budget, and as such they are the most effective people to talk to when something is wanted, and Marshall said he’d “work his butt off” to make those projects happen.
“If you were on a soccer team and you thought you were going to lose would you be an effective team mate?” he said. “We have to have the mindsets that we’re going to win and that you’re going out there to play a spot on the field.”