Maintaining Momentum: Saanich Climate Action Plan

Saanich Council recently adopted the Climate Action Plan. The plan is a blueprint to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in the community by one-third over the next decade. We’ve also set an aggressive target of 50 per cent reduction for all municipal operations during the same time. This week, Council amended the Sustainable Saanich Official Community Plan to enshrine the reduction targets as part of our community growth strategy.

The plan has been many years in the making and is the product of extensive community collaboration and engagement. I am inspired by the ideas and knowledge that came from the community and shaped the initiatives within the plan. The incredible work by staff to develop the ideas into a series of short- and long-term initiatives has given Council a truly impressive document with which to guide our activities as we cut our emissions.

It’s important to celebrate this important milestone, but we cannot lose our momentum. Our climate is under threat and we must take action to cut our emissions and reduce our energy use. The plan identifies a number of short-term initiatives, including building more sidewalks and bikelanes, improving bus shelters, corporate car pooling and bus passes. These initiatives are underway and Council has accelerated pedestrian, cycling, and transit infrastructure improvements. Council added an extra half million dollars to the 2010 sidewalk budget. In 2009, Saanich installed 3.1 kilometres of new sidewalk.

Long-term initiatives, including a district-wide mobility action plan and rapid transit on the Douglas corridor, will have a major impact on our infrastructure investments. They require collaboration with the CRD, BC Transit, provincial Ministries, and neighbouring municipalities to be successful. To meet these longer-term objectives, we must have a plan in place to secure funding and cooperation with regional partners and senior levels of government.

As Saanich rolls out the climate action initiatives, we will continue to engage residents to raise awareness about new climate-friendly programs and infrastructure. The plan is a living document and it will evolve to meet community needs and ensure that we achieve our 2020 targets.

Ultimately the success of the Climate Action Plan comes down to individual decisions. We all have a role to play in reducing our emissions and energy use. The choices we make as commuters, consumers, renters, and homeowners will have a profound impact on our climate.

The climate challenge is our common challenge. Saanich is committed to achieving our 2020 targets. I know that by working together we will be successful.