Port Alberni Creates a Cost Effective and Environmentally Friendly Plan for Reducing GHG Emissions

The City of Port Alberni is a key example of how municipalities can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in their community. The BC Climate Action Charter of 2007 encouraged local governments to become carbon neutral by 2012, and Port Alberni was one of 181 BC municipalities and regional districts to sign on. Signatories of the Climate Action Charter agreed to develop strategies and initiate actions to reach the following goals:

  • Be carbon neutral in their operations by 2012;
  • Measure and report on their community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile; and,
  • Create complete, compact, more energy efficient rural and urban communities.

The City of Port Alberni responded immediately, and began searching for viable, energy efficient solutions.

Partnerships & Stakeholders

Summary of the Process

To align Port Alberni’s actions with the Charter, the City became a PLUS Network member of the International Center for Sustainable Cities (ICSC) in 2008. By becoming a member, the City agreed to follow particular sustainability practices and activities. In addition to this, the Port Alberni Climate Change Committee (CCC) was formed in 2007 to help direct the actions of the City regarding a sustainability strategy. The CCC provided 7 recommendations to the City:

  • Establish a GHG management capability team within the City, responsible for managing and reporting on emission reduction process.
  • Establish a Climate Action Team to network with stakeholders and partners.
  • Adopt least cost, highest impact measures to reduce City GHG emissions and energy costs.
  • Establish a carbon offset/reduction fund as an internal account and earmark sufficient startup funds.
  • Update City purchasing policy, planning and development regulations and bylaws to encourage low carbon development in the community.
  • Hold a public forum to discuss this report, collaborate with community organizations, and combine efforts for longer-term community projects.
  • Create infrastructure to reduce GHG emissions, and prioritize the development of a bike and walking trail master plan for the City.

The City initiated an Environmental Sustainability Plan to reduce GHG emissions, and address the 7 recommendations. First, a baseline evaluation was completed to record the City’s corporate and community GHG emissions. This corporate evaluation showed that 55% and 37% of corporate GHG emissions were attributed to Buildings and the Vehicle Fleet, respectively. Cutting GHG emissions from these two sectors became a top priority, as improvements to these sectors had the potential to result in the greatest reductions in GHG and long-term energy costs.

Key Actions & Impact

Numerous actions have been implemented to date, resulting in impactful change:

  • Upgrades to the Aquatic Center and Fire Hall resulted in a reduction of GHG emissions by 47% and 29%, respectively.
  • The City adopted an anti-idling policy for its vehicle fleet, restricting idling to less than two minutes. Of 80 vehicles in the fleet, 19 vehicles and one Zamboni have been replaced with more fuel-efficient options. These fleet changes, and others, have resulted in a 6% reduction in corporate emissions.
  • Recycling and solid waste management programs motivated people to reduce solid waste and recycle more. Waste bins are available in small, medium, and large sizes; the larger the bin, the more it costs. Residential solid waste has been reduced by 1400 tonnes per year.
  • A number of bike trails and walking paths have been developed. The Engineering Department is currently developing an Active Transportation Master Plan to fully address the seventh recommendation made by the CCC.
  • The City invests in local hydroelectric company, Upnit Power Corp, receives carbon tax rebates from the Climate Action Review Incentive Program, and contributes $25/ton to offset GHG emissions. This money accrues in the City’s Green Energy Reserve to fund future projects, such as upgrading two large facilities; the Multiplex and Glenwood Centre.

Key to Success

  • Strong interdepartmental collaboration resulted in positive change.
  • The City prioritized large projects, such as the Aquatic Center, knowing these would reduce the most GHG emissions, conserve energy, and save the City money.

For more information, please contact:

Ken Watson, City Manager
Port Alberni
T: 250-720-2824
E: ken_watson@portalberni.ca

Share this article:

Subscribe to our newsletter