Cranbrook council votes against supporting new energy standards

Council decided against sending a letter supporting local government leadership on energy efficient buildings to achieve climate targets.

Council decided against sending a letter supporting local government leadership on energy efficient buildings to achieve climate targets. Coun. Sharon Cross put forward the motion asking council to send the letter to MLA Bill Bennett and Rich Coleman, minister of Energy and Mines.

Cross’s motion noted Cranbrook has signed on to the climate action charter, amended its building bylaw, completed an erosion and sediment control bylaw, hired an energy manager in conjunction with B.C. Hydro, and is currently considering a project to assist our community in becoming more resilient to climate change. It notes the city supports the provincial government in provincial policies to improve the energy efficiency of residential buildings.

“Be it therefore resolved that the city send a letter supporting local government leadership on energy efficient buildings to achieve climate targets as for the template provided by the Pembina Institute,” it said.

The letter asks for four things: continued development of home energy retrofit financing programs; to develop a comprehensive state of opt-in regulations that municipalities can chose to opt-in or not; energy labelling of residential buildings at time of sale; and a proposed modernization of the B.C. Building Code.

Coun. Diana J. Scott said she would not support the motion, not because she doesn’t believe in energy savings, but because the energy-saving initiatives should be cost effective.

“That’s the problem we’re running into right now. If something makes sense to do and we’re going to be able to save energy, do it for a reasonable cost and recoup our cost, then it might make sense,” Scott said. “When you talk about having buildings to LEED standard and those kinds of things, the cost is astronomical.”

Scott noted that several million had to be tacked on to the homeless shelter to make it an energy efficient building. She said she worries too much will be spent on these projects.

“I hate to have standards imposed,” she said. “I like us to be encouraged and for it to make sense cost-wise rather than be imposed, because the cost can really get out of hand.”

Cross said there is no mention of LEED standards. She said when purchasing new appliances like stoves and fridges, the energy rating is clearly displayed. However when you buy a home you don’t know what the energy rating will be.

“I just had my home retrofitted to come up to an energy standard, and now that I’ve done that the energy auditor has told me what my rating is now,” she said, “so when it comes time to resell I can tell people what my house’s energy rating is.”

Coun. Denise Pallesen sided with Scott on the costs.

“In this day and age when affordable housing is a huge, huge thing that when you start putting different recommendations, whether opting-in or guidelines or whatever we chose to call them, it is going to raise the price of the homes,” Pallesen said. “If somebody wants to buy a home that is energy efficient, that can be a selling point, but I think that we should not be putting any more guidelines or opt-ins or any other guidelines in an already very highly taxed by regulations as our home-builders association.”

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