THIS WEEK, the City of Kamloops took another step towards addressing the climate emergency that we face globally. The City’s Community Climate Action Plan was brought to council. Council has asked that the community give feedback on the plan, before plans to adopt it this summer.
The plan lays out facts on where the city is contributing the most to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Kamloops emits 11 per cent more carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per capita than the provincial average. We have on average 1.9 vehicles per household compared to the national average of 1.5 vehicles. Sixty-six per cent of Kamloops emissions are from transportation, 29 per cent are from buildings, and five per cent are from solid waste.
To meet federal, provincial and city requirements, Kamloops needs a 70 per cent reduction in emissions compared to 2007, or a reduction of 430,750 tCO2e (tons of carbon dioxide equivalent). That’s a lot of CO2e. The goal is to have met at least 80 per cent of the reduction by 2050.
With big trucks and urban sprawl, Kamloops has a long ways to go to reduce our high greenhouse gas emissions.
But how are we going to do it?
Apparently not with a mass conversion to bicycles and bicycle infrastructure. Despite the report having 90 pages of recommendations, there is only one brief mention of increasing the amount of separated bicycle lanes in the city.
There is talk of end of trip facilities such as showers, but safe bicycle paths are not a priority in the report. In all, cycling is mentioned only 11 times in the report, as well as an addition 15 mentions of e-bikes and e-cargo bikes.
Rather, the focus of the report is on vehicles. Since 66 per cent of emissions in Kamloops are from vehicles, that makes sense in some ways.
There are solutions related to electrification, such as providing more charging stations. There are also solutions such as creating more in-fill in the centre of the city and 10-minute neighborhoods, both of which would reduce the need for as many, or as long of trips by private vehicle. In all, there are over 100 mentions of vehicles in the report.
At present, 88 per cent of all trips in Kamloops are by vehicle. By 2050, the goal is for 50 per cent of trips to be by active transportation, which is transit, cycling, walking, and so on. That is a huge shift in how people behave. It is a great goal, that would help make Kamloops a more livable city.
It’s definitely doable, but there are forces that are pushing against the shift to active transportation. Most importantly, the city continues to sprawl outward. Along with neighborhoods already at the fringes, like Westsyde, Rayleigh, Dallas, and Barnhartvale, new subdivisions continue to be added in Juniper, Batchelor, and Rose Hill. Out at Tranquille on the Lake, developers want to build a subdivision the size of Chase as well.
Why would anyone take a bus from Rayleigh to Aberdeen, if it takes hours to get there and back? Active transportation works best in smaller, compact cities.
The plan stops short of stopping the development of single-family homes or urban sprawl. While there is a goal that everything is within 10 minutes by 2050, the plan still allows large single-family building lots and an increasingly larger city footprint.
In all, there are a lot of good initiatives laid out in the City of Kamloops Climate Action Plan. My favorites are providing curbside organic pickup, building zero-emission new buildings, and optimizing transit and school bus services.
If, as a city, we can reduce CO2e emissions by 70 per cent, it would be a step in the right direction. For the naysayers who think one small city can’t make a difference on the global scale, one needs to remember that local governments have consistently led the way on a host of issues from no-smoking bylaws, to pesticide bans, to improved cycling infrastructure.
With this new plan, Kamloops has a chance to help lead the way in tackling the climate emergency.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.