Tag Archives: climate action

Setting the green standard

Saanich needs to raise its green design standards for commercial and industrial buildings.

A recent application before Council highlighted the deficiency in our energy and environmental design standards. Council approved the redevelopment of a warehouse building in the Ardersier Road commercial-industrial park. The building is a larger upgrade to the existing structure that will create new space for additional tenants.

Absent from the building design were any of the elements that are now commonplace for residential applications. Saanich Council routinely sees proposals that feature geothermal or heat pump systems, green roofs and rain gardens, and solar panels for electricity or hot water. Gold or higher ratings for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BuiltGreen are a common expectation of applicants. The proposed building, though attractive, did not offer any of these modern design elements.

The lack of sustainable design features is not the fault of the applicant. The proposal contained exactly what’s required for a warehouse building. The design satisfies Saanich’s out-dated development permit guidelines and the BC Building Code. With stronger eco-design standards, this building could have been a model for future commercial development and a source of pride for Saanich.

I support the expansion of commercial and industrial space. A growing local economy is the cornerstone of a healthy community. But smart growth and green design principles aren’t just for condos and houses. Office buildings, warehouses, and retail space must be sustainable as well.

If we’re going to attain a higher level of energy efficiency and environmental design, we must retool our development permit guidelines and raise our design standards for all buildings.

Buildings produce more than 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Saanich. Cutting emissions and reducing energy consumption means focusing on green design and maximizing energy efficiency. Energy efficient buildings will help us to reach our one-third emission reduction target by 2020.

Green buildings also save businesses money with reduced heating and cooling costs. That savings translates into more local jobs and a more prosperous local economy.

Let’s step up lead the charge for innovative energy and environmental design. It’s how we build a healthy economy and a healthy climate for today and the future.

LRT recommended for CRD

Public deserves say on $1 billion light rail plan, Saanich mayor says
Erin McCracken, Victoria News

Reaction to bring B.C. Transit’s recommendation to bring a $950-million electric light-rail transit system to the region was swift – and mixed.

“The issue right now is do our taxpayers have an opportunity to comment between now and when they want a decision on May 17?” asked Saanich Mayor Frank Loenard. “That’s a pretty tight timeline on a $1-billion decision for taxpayers.”

Transit is currently paid for by fares, the province, property and fuel taxes and some advertising. For light rail, Greater Victoria residential property owners would have to pay an additional $130 to $265 in transit taxes a year, depending on how much money from senior government can be secured.

Starting May 15, they currently will already be paying $120.50 for transit in 2011. Business owners, who will pay $386 a year in transit taxes, would see that climb to between $1,300 and $2,650.

“This needs to be a partnership from all three levels of government and we need to determine what that might look like, even find out how long it would take to get an answer from the provincial and federal governments,” Leonard said. “Big picture, it’s where we need to go. But there’s some questions that need to be addressed from here to there.”

Construction on major exchanges could begin at least two years after project approval, and it would be at least four or five years before a full system is operational.

A partial build-out of the line may help, said Saanich Coun Dean Murdock, who favours it going out to the 6 Mile/Colwood interchange for $770 million.

“What’s clear here is there is no option to do nothing. There is no cheap way out of this,” he said.

“If we don’t take it all the way out to the Langford exchange at Station Avenue, we start to erode the attraction for people to get on the LRT.”

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is reserving judgement until it can go over the plan with a fine-tooth comb.

“It’s a complex solution. It’s a lot of money,” said chamber CEO Bruce Carter, adding that future costs of a regional sewage system must also be considered. “That strain on taxpayers is significant.”

The chosen route from downtown Victoria to Saanich, View Royal, Colwood and Langford leaves Esquimalt out of the light-rail loop.

With 6,000 CFB Esquimalt employees, most of whom live on the West Shore, it makes more sense to prioritize inter-city rail along the E&N line, said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“The alignment they have chosen is not going to serve the region best,” she said.

Light rail is being touted as the most effective remedy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve transit ridership, reduce roadway congestion, increase property values, generate jobs and provide more cost-savings over the long run.

Also driving the project is a forecasted boom in the West Shore’s population, which is expected to climb to 122,000 by 2038.

B.C. Transit’s recommendation will go before its board of directors and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission in May, before it is submitted to the province in June.

LRT: Getting our fair share of the Provincial Transit Plan

This week, BC Transit recommended a Light Rail Transit system from Victoria to the West Shore. The total project cost (downtown Victoria through a hub at Saanich’s Uptown to Station Avenue, Langford) is estimated at $950 million. Ending the rail line at Six Mile (the junction with the E&N) would be $770million. In my view, the critical passenger mass – where the train would collect the largest number of passengers – is at Six Mile. The track from Six Mile to Station Avenue can considered for a future phase.

Transit also revealed this week that just maintaining its current, bus-based service would cost $250million. A rapid bus service would cost about $550million, but would need to be converted to LRT within 10 – 15 years. That’s twice the cost for the same outcome.

For all the discussion this week about the plan and its price tag, the provincial government offered little more than platitudes when it comes to pitching in funds. Interestingly, when the Evergreen Line (Coquitlam to Vancouver) was announced, senior governments pledged over $800 million toward the $1.3billion project.

The long-ago announced $14billion Provincial Transit Plan ear-marked close to $1billion for the Capital Region. An LRT system that will cut emissions and double ridership is a perfect candidate for the provincial fund.

The federal government can be forgiven for its silence, as it’s in the midst of an election campaign. However, its willingness to chip in for the Canada Line and Evergreen Line on the Lower Mainland should extend to LRT in the CRD.

The two-thirds funding from senior governments brings the local share of Victoria to Six Mile LRT to $257 million. That’s equal to the cost of doing nothing – a cost that property taxpayers would bear alone.

It’s time for the provincial government to step up and deliver on its promised Transit Plan funding. Let’s get our federal partner at the table as well. Their combined support for transit helped Lower Mainland commuters out of traffic congestion and home to their families sooner. Surely Capital Region residents deserve the same.

Setting a green standard

Saanich must raise green standards, councillor says
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Saanich is raising its expectations.

As sustainability features become standard when proposed residential and commercial buildings come to council for approval, one councillor is looking to ensure that all green options are considered.

Coun. Dean Murdock wants staff to set environmental standards for developers so bargaining for green features doesn’t take place at the council table.

“We’re moving to a point where there’s an expectation on council that you’re going to build to at least a gold or silver LEED standard,” he said. “Things have shifted quite dramatically in the last five years. There are so many different options (available) to achieve LEED or build green.”
Those options include anything from the type of building material used to how the rooms are heated.

“I’ve asked staff to look back to see: this is what we were looking for (five years ago), this is what we’re looking for now.”
Murdock wants to take an inventory of what developers have already done – from the use of solar hot water to the integration of rain gardens – to give council more clout during sustainability discussions.

“If someone comes to the mic and says: ‘That’s not functional’ or ‘It’s too expensive,’ we can point to examples and say: ‘This is where that was implemented. See how they made it work?’”

Murdock acknowledges that building green can be achieved in a variety of ways and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
This way, however, council will be able to set the bar for, at the very least, basic requirements that will give some assurances before anything is approved.

Let’s send Falcon a rail business case

BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon says he wants to talk to Mayors and communities about commuter rail on the E&N, light rail, or an overpass at McKenzie Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway.

It’s easy to dismiss this as political opportunism or pandering. Falcon had five years as Transportation Minister to do something about the Colwood Crawl and congestion on Highway 1, but failed to deliver. Now the leadership is at stake, he’s all ears.

But let’s recognize the opportunity that Falcon’s gesture presents to the Capital Region. A member of the governing party has opened the door to a major transportation investment. That’s money to fix our growing congestion challenges. Political rhetoric or not, it’s well worth answering the call.

BC Transit is steadily moving forward with a Rapid Transit Plan for the Douglas-Island Highway corridor. The Plan is for a light rail or rapid bus system, or a mix of the two. Saanich, Victoria, and View Royal Councils have all endorsed a rail-based approach.

A rail-based system offers environmental, social, and economic benefits for our region. It will cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit ridership, improve transit travel times, stimulate economic growth, and cut sprawl. It’s exactly the kind of plan a would-be Premier is looking for.

Let’s not miss our chance to fix the Crawl and boost our region’s environment and economy at the same time. We can, and should, pull together to fast track a business case for a rail system, including costs and benefits. Let’s get it into the hands of all the leadership candidates for both political parties. It might just make it to the top of the pile this time. It’s worth a try.

Saanich Council unanimously support rail-based rapid transit

SAANICH COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTS RAIL-BASED RAPID TRANSIT

Nov 1, 2010 – CFAX 1070

SAANICH COUNCIL VOICED IT’S SUPPORT FOR RAIL BASED RAPID TRANSIT ALONG THE DOUGLAS CORRIDOR , THIS AT A COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY NIGHT

COUNCILLOR DEAN MURDOCK SAYS IT WAS A UNANIMOUS DECISION TO PUT SAANICH COUNCIL’S STAMP OF SUPPORT ON RAIL BASED TECHNOLOGY

“I’m quite pleased with the fact that council has made the endorsement of the plan. I think a rail-based rapid transit system will be an enormous benefit, socially, environmentally and economically to Saanich and to the Capital Region”

MURDOCK SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE OTHER JURISDICTIONS WHO ARE IMPACTED BY THE RAPID TRANSIT PLANS TO THROW THEIR SUPPORT BEHIND THE RAIL OPTION AS WELL

Support for Rail-based Rapid Transit

The BC Transit rapid transit plan offers huge opportunities for economic development,
environmental sustainability, and social benefits for Saanich and the Capital Region. Saanich
Council has a limited opportunity to convey its support for a rapid transit solution that will
ensure that our community capitalizes on the full range of available economic, environmental,
and social benefits of a rapid transit system.

Economic Benefits
The Douglas Street – Island Highway corridor is a major transportation thoroughfare with
immense potential for commercial and residential redevelopment. A rail-based rapid transit
system creates an opportunity to drive economic activity along the corridor that will allow
Saanich to achieve the vision of a major “hub” centre at Uptown with co-location of commercial
and residential development in close proximity to rapid transit.

A rail-based system is a permanent commitment to quality transit that provides a basis for
development decisions. Unlike a bus system that can be shifted out of a particular corridor, a rail
system creates a framework for the rational development and siting decisions that instills
confidence in development planning and economic investments. Saanich and the Capital Region
cannot miss an opportunity to inspire confidence in the redevelopment of this important corridor.

Environmental Benefits
A rail-based transit system offers environmental benefits that cannot be attained with a bus
system. Rail technology is an electric-powered system that dramatically reduces greenhouse gas
emissions.

A rail-based system also draws a considerably larger ridership than bus-based technology.
Experiences across North America and Europe indicate a dramatic increase in ridership among
communities that introduced a rail-based system (e.g., Salt Lake City achieved its 10-year
ridership projections on the first day of its service; in its second year of service, the Canada Line
in Vancouver surpassed its five-year ridership projections). By shifting commuters away from
the single-occupant vehicle into a quality, reliable rail-based service, Saanich and the Capital
Region can achieve a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and attain the goal of a
one-third reduction in emission levels by 2020.

Social Benefits
A rail-based rapid transit system provides commuters with a quality, reliable, and efficient
alternative to the single-occupant vehicle. The ability to move commuters more quickly between
their origin and destination allows them to spend more time with their families and less time in a
congested right-of-way.

Limited Opportunity
BC Transit’s own survey results indicate an overwhelming preference for rail-based technology.
During Saanich’s Official Community Plan and Climate Action Plan consultation processes,
residents repeatedly expressed a preference for rail-based technology. As BC Transit quickly
moves toward a recommendation on selecting a technology for the rapid transit plan, Saanich
Council has an opportunity to endorse, on behalf of its residents, rail-based transit as the
preferred technology for the rapid transit plan.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Saanich Council convey its support for rail-based transit
as the preferred technology or modal choice for the Douglas Street – Island Highway rapid transit
project between downtown and the West Shore to BC Transit, the Victoria Regional Transit
Commission, the CRD Board, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as
Members of the Legislature and Members of Parliament representing Saanich.

DEAN MURDOCK
SAANICH COUNCILLOR

Calling for a ban on oil tankers in BC waters

SAANICH OBJECTS TO COASTAL TANKER TRAFFIC

Sep 15, 2010

SAANICH COUNCIL HAS VOTED UNANIMOUSLY TO LOBBY FOR A BAN ON ANY INCREASE IN TANKER TRAFFIC, OR OFF SHORE OIL DRILLING ON THE B-C COAST.

CO-SPONSOR OF THE RESOLUTION WAS COUNCILLOR DEAN MURDOCK…

“Saanich, like many jurisdictions in the Capital Region, has a coastline that we are concerned about, that could be potentially impacted by an oil spill, in the event of a tanker running aground”

MURDOCK SAYS SAANICH WILL COMMUNICATE ITS CONCERNS DIRECTLY TO THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS; AND WILL SUPPORT A SIMILAR RESOLUTION THAT IS SCHEDULED FOR DEBATE AT THIS MONTH’S UNION OF B-C MUNICIPALITIES CONVENTION.

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.