Grand Forks continues along path to carbon neutrality

About five years ago Grand Forks, and many other Kootenay communities signed an agreement pledging to be carbon neutral by 2012.

About five years ago Grand Forks, and many other Kootenay communities signed an agreement pledging to be carbon neutral by 2012.That project, the Carbon Neutral Kootenays (CNK) project, is over now and although they city has not completely become carbon neutral, Grand Forks has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. At the April 7 committee of the whole meeting, Patricia Dehnel gave a presentation on the CNK project.CNK is a project funded by the three regional districts of the Kootenays (East, Central and Boundary) and the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).The project, which is now finished, helped 28 communities and five First Nations with steps towards being carbon neutral.“The project came together five years ago,” Dehnel told the Gazette. “It was an amazing leadership example by the three regional districts and the CBT. They came together in response to the provincial government’s climate action charter.”The climate action charter was a voluntary agreement mayors were asked to sign which committed them to be carbon neutral in their operations by 2012.That goal was eventually scaled down to be working towards being carbon neutral.“The carbon neutral community project was just a great example of collaboration supporting all of the local governments so each one didn’t have to basically invent the wheel,” said Dehnel. “We were able to determine how to actually work towards being carbon neutral by 2012 overall.”At the council meeting, Dehnel told council, “It’s a celebration today talking about the five-year project.“It’s community versus corporate. It’s all about the corporate emissions. What the local government is responsible for in terms of buildings, fleets, recreation facilities and infrastructures.”Dehnel said Grand Forks has done very well at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. She does add that in smaller communities the statistics are not completely reliable.In 2008, the base (first) year of the project, Grand Forks had 414 greenhouse gas emissions compared to 302 in 2013.“That’s really good,” she said.  With the Carbon Neutral Kootenays project ending, Dehnel said that communities are now on their own.“We did provide five years of training,” she said. “We hope that the momentum of the project continues and there is some form of working together.”Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor said he is pleased with how the city has been able to reduce its greenhouse emissions.“We’ve done fairly well as far as our targets although nobody is expected to reach the carbon neutral targets that were originally set,” he said. Taylor said the city has worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint.“We’ve been conscience of it for the last few years,” he said. “I think we’ve been pretty diligent in terms of looking at where we can save. We’ve won some awards. We put on these adaptations to motors to allow variable speed to save us the use of electricity. So we’ve gone carbon neutral there.”Taylor adds that the city has gone to great lengths to insulate buildings efficiently, and purchase more efficient vehicles.“We just can’t go out and afford to buy all new vehicles but as we’ve replaced things we’ve looked for vehicles with greater gas efficiency,” he said. With the province shutting down the controversial Pacific Carbon Trust and the Darkwoods project, the City of Grand Forks will be able to keep their own carbon offsets.“We are going to continue to put money away in the carbon fund, the fund we set up,” said Taylor. “We’re looking at projects where we can apply that money and have even bigger savings.”The city of Grand Forks has also released their Climate Action Revenue Incentive Public (CARIP) report for 2013.The report, which was compiled by Wayne Kopan, building inspector and bylaw officer, details the city’s community-wide actions for climate action as well as the carbon neutral progress report.The report states that the annual corporate emissions for Grand Forks was 289 tonnes of CO2e.The report also states, “Through a resolution of council, we set up a climate action reserve into with the city has contributed equivalent offset funding of $8,019 for 2012 and $7,245 for 2013. These amounts represent the offsets claimed in the CARIP report for the city.”