Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meet Prince Rupert's Green Team

Last September Premier Gordon Campbell signed the BC Climate Action Charter together with the Union of BC Municipalities. The city of Prince Rupert was one of the cosigners of the Charter. The Charter recognizes that global warming is a real and growing threat to BC and as a consequence that each and every community in BC needs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and become sustainable.

Premier Campbell and those who drew up the Charter realized that reducing GHG emissions and becoming sustainable are not things that should be done in isolation. They understand that it is vital that all levels of government work together to share best practices in this endeavor.

A year ago, the Prince Rupert municipal government convened a green advisory task force to assist in developing and implementing a GHG emission reduction plan. This task force or "Green Team" is made up of a cross-section of Rupertites, representing business, professionals, the environment, academia, and our municipal government.

One of the tasks that the green team took on was to bring the city's Official Community Plan (OCP) in line with our commitment to the BC Climate Action Charter. Changes to the OCP include: a commitment to reduce GHG emissions, making Prince Rupert more transit, pedestrian, and bicycle friendly, and the movement towards LEEDS efficiency standards for all publicly funded buildings.

The green team has advised the city in the hiring of a planning firm, Sheltair, which is currently drawing up the GHG reduction plan. The plan should be completed and presented to city council sometime in late May. But the green team's most important task, consultation with the public, has only just begun.

It is important that even before the plan is implemented we start the process of public consultation. At each stage of the planning process we need public input so that we can learn what will work and what won't. Ultimately it is public participation that will make or break the transition to a greener Prince Rupert.

BC is a beautiful place to live. In Prince Rupert we have everything that's good about BC and little of its downside. No congested freeways, no urban sprawl and no pollution. A magnificent harbour and one of the greenest container ports in the world thanks to efficient sea connections to Asia and railroad connections to eastern Canada and the continental USA.

Our region is uniquely poised to capture several forms of clean and renewable energy in the coming years - wind, hydro, and tidal power. If we the people, the city, and the province can work together to build a sustainable society we will have harnessed the far more important human energy of cooperation and mutual trust in the bargain.

The green team would like to invite the public to our first Community Engagement Workshop. This will be an informal get-together, with snacks and refreshments, where the public can meet members of the green team, take a look at the draft of the Sheltair Plan, get a brief glimpse of what other BC communities are doing, and get a chance to make verbal or written suggestions of their own. The workshop will be held on Saturday, April 19 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the Civic Center, in the Raven Room and on Tuesday, April 22 from 7PM to 9PM at the Civic Center, in the Judo room. Please come out and meet Prince Rupert's green team.

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