B.C. considering loans to encourage participation in climate plan programs
The B.C. government is considering interest-free loans to encourage British Columbians to make their homes more energy efficient.
In a wide-ranging, year-end interview with Global News, Environment Minister George Heyman brought up the idea of the province providing funds for people to buy into the government’s new climate plan.
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“We understand that people have different means so, for instance, if we are looking to make homes more energy efficient through retrofitting, the traditional model has been incentives, and we will still offer those,” explained Heyman.
“But another model that has been successful in other jurisdictions — and we will be looking at this — is a revolving loan fund,” he continued. “You register the loan against the property and not the individual, then that loan is repaid from the energy savings. It actually doesn’t cost people up front.”
The government unveiled a new climate plan in 2018, which is heavily focused on public support. In order to ensure British Columbians retrofit their homes, buy zero-emission vehicles or invest in electric heat pumps, the government plans to create incentive programs.
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But the details of those incentive programs are still unknown. The government has promised to make those programs a central part of the 2019 provincial budget, which will be released in February.
The B.C. government has been criticized for putting a heavy burden on consumers to buy into the plan. But Heyman says he is optimistic that sentiment will change once people see how the new plan works.
“The immediate concerns are affordability, a job, taking care of their kids, and we think we can do this in a way that engages British Columbians, that makes their lives simpler and more affordable by doing the right thing,” Heyman said.
As B.C. forges ahead with the climate plan, the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline is still in question.
The delays in the pipeline project have led to anger in Alberta, with political leaders there placing the blame on the B.C. government.
WATCH: B.C. Environment minister still concerned about safe movement of bitumen through B.C.
“I don’t think it’s irresponsible for British Columbians to stand up for our interests. We have done it rationally. We haven’t picked a fight,” Heyman said. “Ultimately, the delay in this pipeline is not our fault. It is not the federal government’s fault.”
The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in August that the National Energy Board did not properly consult with First Nations or factor in the impact of tanker traffic on the coast. The project’s approval was quashed, and the federal government is now conducting a new environmental review of the project.
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It is still up in the air whether the project will be completed.
“That is a decision that will be made, frankly, by the National Energy Board,” Heyman said. “We said when we took office that we thought there were a lot of concerns that had not been addressed by the original review or the government.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.