Local Government, Communities & Built Environment
Communities in British Columbia play a vital role in creating a cleaner, more sustainable and resilient future for our province.
Local governments, Indigenous communities, and neighbourhoods alike will face significant risks to their populations, infrastructure and services due to the impacts of climate change. They also are the best positioned to adapt their land use planning, capital asset management and service models to become resilient to changing climate conditions, as well as mitigating global warming. Climate action efforts also enhance livability and support public health, well-being, and environmental and fiscal sustainability of communities.
Local Government Climate Action
Local governments recognize that together they have direct or indirect influence over more than half of BC’s provincial inventory of GHG emissions. Climate actions such as supporting cleaner and active transportation, complete urban design, energy conservation, transitioning to zero waste, and renewable power generation will lower the carbon footprint of their community, support a circular economy, and make life more affordable, secure and safe for their residents.
Municipalities and regional districts are already taking action:
- creating compact communities reduces vehicle emissions and enhances road safety by having housing, shops, workplaces, schools, and parks within easy walking distance of each other
- focusing development along existing transit routes can make daily travel easier, cleaner and more convenient, while more cycling paths and walkways offer other clean and healthier options
- adopting the BC Energy Step Code and other building design and operation standards to support more efficient, low-carbon development
Local governments recognise that climate action also supports the health, well-being, and environmental and fiscal sustainability of their communities – helping to protect citizens and infrastructure, while also leading to lower emissions, transition to zero waste, new economic activity, and improved liveability.
The Province continues to collaborate with local governments through a voluntary agreement known as the Climate Action Charter. Almost every local government in B.C. is a signatory. Initiated at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) Conference in 2007, local governments commit to taking climate actions, including:
- Becoming carbon neutral in their corporate operations,
- Measuring community-wide emissions,
- Creating complete, compact, energy-efficient urban and rural communities.
There are several provincial tools, policies and programs that can help support climate action innovation at the community level, including:
- BC Climate Action Toolkit for Local Governments is a comprehensive one-stop resource website for local governments and community partners seeking best practices, knowledge sharing and collaboration. Visit the site to follow stories, the latest news and for practical advice in implementing Climate Action Charter commitments.
- Community Energy & Emissions Inventories (CEEI) which provide an inventory of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting indicators at the community level (read more below).
- Legislative requirement for greenhouse gas reduction targets in local government Official Community Plans and Regional Growth Strategies supported by several resources.
- Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP), which is a conditional grant program that provides funding to local governments equal to 100 percent of the carbon taxes they pay directly to support local government operations. Conditions include being a signatory of the Climate Action Charter. The 2021/22 fiscal year is the last year for the CARIP program. The only reporting requirement for the 2020 reporting year will be to complete the 2020 Carbon Tax Calculation Form (due August 6, 2021).
For more information, including a list of communities that have signed the Charter, please visit Local Government Climate Action.
Efforts are underway to further support local governments to accelerate the transition to compact communities, zero emission buildings and vehicles, and improved waste diversion.
- The CleanBC Communities Fund provides provincial and federal funding for projects that will focus on the management of renewable energy, access to clean-energy transportation, improved energy efficiency of buildings and the generation of clean energy. (Deadline: March 27, 2019 - see News Release)
- The new BC Energy Step Code, which identifies actions that go beyond the requirements of the B.C. Building Code, has been developed for voluntary implementation by local governments
- Waste Diversion initiatives and new programming from the environment ministry support reduced landfill dumping of materials, including organics that can be used to create energy and reduce carbon pollution.
- Energy ministry programming supports local governments and Indigenous communities transitioning their energy systems toward cleaner, low-carbon options,
e.g. CELP Community Energy Solutions such as efficiency retrofits and district energy
and CEV Charging Infrastructure Program.
- Transportation Ministry funding is available to local governments, e.g. the BikeBC program, to support capital expenditures on improvements to community infrastructure. Additional funding is being made available to municipalities and indigenous communities via the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
(see also: Active Transportation; Transportation & the Environment)
Community Energy & Emissions Inventory
In addition to corporate emissions management, another commitment under the climate action charter is for local governments to measure and report on their community emissions. The Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) provides an indicative inventory of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and supporting indicators at the community level.
Learn more about the Community Energy and Emissions Inventory.