The head of the organization representing local builders calls on the District to implement a retrofitting program for the local building stock if it wants to be serious about meeting new climate change goals. (Derek Ford/District of Saanich)

Head of Greater Victoria builders says Saanich’s new climate goals require meaningful action

VRBA’s Casey Edge says Saanich must launch a retrofit program for local building stock.

The head of the organization representing local builders questions whether Saanich will be able to meet new climate change goals.

Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), said if Saanich is serious about meeting the new goals, the municipality must launch a retrofit program for Saanich’s building stock.

“You can’t throw around terms like ‘climate emergency’ without stepping up to address it,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s just politics.”

Saanich council Monday unanimously approved new climate change fighting goals. The new goals commit Saanich to cut community-wide greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030. The previous goal called for a reduction of 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050. The new climate goals also call for zero net emissions before 2050 as a complement to the target of becoming a 100 renewable energy community by 2080.

RELATED: Saanich council considers more ambitious climate change goals

RELATED: Saanich well off mark when it comes to meeting goals of climate plan

Edge said Saanich so far has been unable to implement a reasonably efficient permit process. “[So] addressing climate change is more than they can chew,” he said, in alluding to Saanich’s previous failure to meet reduction scenarios for its own corporate emissions and community-wide-emissions.

Saanich had initially planned to cut its own emissions by 50 per cent from 2007 figures by 2020. Current projections (pending fulfillment of various initiatives) will see Saanich cut corporate emissions by 40 per cent by 2020-21.

The picture is the same when it comes to community-wide GHGs, with the proviso that the municipality has limited direct control, a point acknowledged by councillors, who have subs

A report released last year found community-wide GHGs will have dropped by nine per cent under a business-as-usual scenario in 2050 — the current deadline for cutting community-wide GHGs by 80 per cent and using 100 per cent renewable sources of energy.

Councillors, for their part, have acknowledged their efforts will not meet with success unless the community, business, and senior spheres of government do their part for meaningful actions.

Edge also criticizes that the report outlining the new goals fails to consider the larger context, noting that Canada’s contribution to global GHGs is just 1.6 per cent.

“Saanich council often seems to be operating in a bubble, evidenced by the climate change report,” he said. “But if they want to show they are serious about reducing [GHGs] in thousands of older homes, they can start by funding a retrofit program.”

Coun. Judy Brownoff offered a similar comment about the importance of addressing Saanich’s housing stock as a source of GHGs, along with improvements to transportation.

Looking at specific sources of emissions, buildings account for approximately 30 per cent of Saanich’s GHGs, with transportation accounting for 58 per cent, waste and others being 11 per cent, according to Saanich staff.


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