Resilience and Climate Action at the Village of Ashcroft
The village updated its OCP in 2018 lead by an extensive community consultation process. Section 7 of the OCP addresses Environmental Protection and Emergency Preparedness and Section 8 addresses Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Each section details Goals and specific Policies and Actions which have laid the foundation for climate action at the municipality.
Section 7: Environmental Protection and Emergency Preparedness
Ashcroft is committed to preserving its environment for the enjoyment of this generation and future generations. Key issues that Ashcroft faces today are related to protecting water quality, ensuring that air quality supports the health of the entire community, respecting the wildlife which make their home in and around Ashcroft, and generally reducing the community’s environmental footprint.
The wildfires in the summer of 2017 gave rise to a number of questions within the community about the emergency preparedness of the community and its capacity to respond quickly either to a fire or another event which prompts evacuation alerts and orders. There are potentially opportunities to improve the Village’s and key agencies’ communication capabilities and protocols, and more clearly define key roles and responsibilities to ensure that the community is aware of an alert or evacuation. Due to climate change, the likelihood of future natural disasters such as wildfire and flooding has increased and therefore it is important that the community is better prepared for emergencies that may arise.
It is the goal of Council to:
- Work towards protecting and enhancing the natural environment;
- Prepare for emergencies that Ashcroft may encounter due to natural disasters; and
- Reduce the impacts of the built environment on the natural environment.
Policies and Actions
It is the policy of Council to:
- Work towards protecting and enhancing the natural environment by:
- Working to ensure that the impacts of development on environmentally sensitive areas are minimized to the greatest extent possible;
- Reducing negative impacts on the climate;
- Promoting xeriscaping, or drought-resistant landscaping;
- Ensuring that riparian areas are protected appropriately through the use of Development Permit Area Guidelines;
- Promoting the conservation of fish habitat on the Thompson and Bonaparte Rivers;
- Requiring developments to adhere to applicable senior government legislation to protect watercourses and fish habitat from urban encroachment;
- Protecting public safety and minimizing property damage associated with flooding events by encouraging flood susceptible areas to be used as park, recreational, or conservation areas;
- Supporting the development of an Urban Tree Program to provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the tree canopy in Ashcroft; and
- Considering options to remove non-native vegetation from parks and community spaces.
- Reduce the impacts of the built environment on the natural environment by:
- Supporting efforts to reduce solid waste by continuing to offer and potentially expand recycling programs and considering the development of a composting program;
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy conservation; and .3 Practicing water conservation to reduce water consumption in the community and retain water for important natural needs.
- Prepare for emergencies that Ashcroft might encounter due to natural disasters by:
- Updating the emergency plan for Ashcroft based on the lessons learned during the 2017 wildfires;
- Considering how to integrate Fire Smart guidelines into Ashcroft governance;
- Supporting public Fire Smart education in the community leveraging resources from the provincial government;
- Supporting the installation of a centrally located signboard which could communicate community events as well as evacuation alerts and orders;
- Developing an emergency access route out of the Mesa Vista neighbourhood;
- Developing and communicating best practices for the emergency preparedness of each household in Ashcroft;
- Reviewing opportunities to have an emergency generator installed in Ashcroft for key facilities and infrastructure; and
- Increasing public education on water conservation and water consumption for residents during natural disasters.
Section 8: Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a key goal for the Village of Ashcroft. In 2012, according to the Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI), GHG emissions associated with buildings and solid waste in the community were 4,511 tonnes/CO2E, which represents a 20% reduction from 2007 (transportation-related emissions were not calculated in the CEEI).
The Village recognizes that it has an important role to play in leading the community to meeting these targets. That being said, the attainment of these targets is also conditional upon the Province pursuing various initiatives such as changing the BC Building Code to require the incorporation of green building technologies for new buildings and renovations, and enabling the creation of new, alternative, fuel efficient, and renewable energy sources to power vehicles and heat homes. Without provincial initiatives and advances in technology, reducing GHG emissions will be challenging.
A related initiative for Ashcroft will be to continually make strides in ensuring that energy is provided in a more sustainable manner. This includes both seeking greater energy conservation while also reviewing opportunities to increase the use of alternative sources of energy. The Village is a solar community and has adopted a solar ready regulation bylaw to require that new development is constructed to enable the addition of solar hot water technology. The Village has already undertaken some initiatives in this regard including the installation of a solar hot water heating system on the pool and would like to install an electric vehicle charging station. The plans for the design of the water treatment plant include the installation of solar panels.
It is the goal of Council to:
- Strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community by 10% below 2012 levels by 2025; and
- Encourage energy conservation and alternative energy sources in the community.
Policies and Actions
It is the policy of Council to:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community by:
- Providing educational materials to residents that outline how they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions;
- Considering the adoption and enforcement of an anti-Idling program;
- Reviewing the feasibility of allowing electric golf carts on public roads as another mode of travel;
- Considering the installation of an electric vehicle charging station in the community;
- Developing trails and other features that support people walking or cycling between key locations;
- Working towards improving transit ridership levels by collaborating with BC Transit to improve the user experience;
- Requiring trails, pathways and/or sidewalks to be incorporated within the design of new subdivisions;
- Reviewing the feasibility of providing incentives to builders who choose to use alternative energy systems such as solar hot water and geo-exchange heating;
- Encouraging residents and businesses to conduct energy audits and to undertake energy retrofits;
- Providing incentives to builders and property owners to construct more energy efficient homes and retrofit existing homes to make them more energy efficient;
- Requiring new homes that are the subject of rezoning applications to meet green building standards;
- Continuing to direct development away from the Agricultural Land Reserve in order to protect and support local agricultural production;
- Working with the Thompson Nicola Regional District to examine options to reduce quantities of waste and to provide alternatives for waste disposal;
- Continuing to support recycling initiatives;
- Reviewing the feasibility of developing a composting program;
- Considering the development of community garden sites on Village lands and raising awareness about the value of purchasing locally-produced food and supporting programs that build a robust local food network; and
- Requesting the Province to provide the Village with the tools and resources to monitor and measure its GHG levels.
- Encourage energy conservation and the use of alternative energy sources in the community by:
- Reviewing the feasibility of installing alternative energy systems into municipal buildings, such as solar hot water, solar electricity, and geo-exchange systems;
- Encouraging the installation of solar panels on houses, businesses, and government buildings;
- Encouraging energy efficiency in the community and review Village-owned facilities for efficiency options; and
- Reviewing the feasibility of developing community energy systems by considering the use of solar and/or wind energy.
- Emergency Response and Evacuation plan update is near finalization and going to council approval at the next council meeting
- Evacuation route plan and feasibility study is complete
- Retrofits of HVAC systems with high efficiency ratings continue
- Solar install at Water Treatment Plant was completed while the solar and hot water system at the pool have served the village for many years
- A tree inventory and assessment was completed with a plan to replace and maintain village tree assets
- A trail master plan has been finalized and presented
- North Ashcroft Drainage and Flood Mitigation Study was completed which lays the groundwork for further infrastructure improvements to prevent flooding.
- The village has been in the forefront of Heat Alert and Management given that we are one of the warmest communities in Canada. We have collaborated extensively with Interior Health Authority to successfully pilot the Heat Alert and Response System (HARS) project.
- The provincial government introduced the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program in 2009. They 2013 they introduced carbon offsets as an avenue to be carbon neutral. We are signatories to the program and have obtained carbon neutrality by purchasing credits annually which have approximated $8,000 per year. The program was replaced in 2022 with the Local Government Climate Action Program (LGCAP) with consistent funding for the village to the tune of $53K. We fully intend to utilize this funding plus the amounts that were allocated for carbon offsets to invest in projects to reduce our footprint. This year we will be installing instruments to measure and track our solar energy generation from the new array atop the water treatment plant. The second initiative involves moving away from commercial software and developing internal capacity to measure and track carbon emissions so that the license expense is redirected to environmental initiatives. The first iteration involves excel and BI and will be complete by July 15, 2022 in time to complete the survey. The second iteration, which will take about a year to develop, envisions a python based script which will be published and freely shared with other municipalities
- The Water Conservation Plan was developed in 2013 and updated in 2020. We have primarily focused on education and community outreach to reduce water consumption. The Water Conservation Bylaw was created in Oct 2015. Watering restrictions were implemented starting May 1st, 2018 which restrict watering in summer to certain days and hours to reduce peak consumption for residential customers in the summer months. Last year in 2021, an intercommunity bylaw officer position was also created to encourage compliance with the bylaws.
- Climate Adaption & mitigation: During 2021 we faced tremendously high temperatures reaching nearly 50 degrees Celsius. During this time our water consumption shot up to a degree that our new treatment plant had trouble keeping up with demand. To mitigate this we have increased our production capacity of our plant by adding additional filtration membranes and full populating our two trains at the plant.