On April 12, Edmonton executive committee will be presented with a new carbon conscious plan that would impact all city departments.
“It would be a fundamental change in how we’re going to be doing business at the city, it’s applying a new lens in our decision making,” Chandra Tomaras said.
Tomaras is the project manager of the proposed community energy transition strategy. She and deputy city manager, Stephanie McCabe, stressed the urgency of implementing programs to combat global warming now.
“We are already seeing the consequences of climate change. Edmonton is one of the fastest-warming regions in the world,” McCabe said.
If approved, the plan would help Edmonton reach carbon emission reductions set out in the Paris Agreements.
“We’re looking at changing the energy that Edmontonians use, and also generating more within our boundaries. We’re looking at switching to sources like solar, wind, geothermal, renewable natural gas as well as hydrogen for home heating,” Tomaras said.
Over the next decade, the city would see more zero-emission vehicles, and EV charging stations.
There would also be an increased focus on public transportation and active transportation.
In addition, Tomaras said infrastructure will need to change.
“Building more energy efficient buildings and also renovating those that exist today.”
Earlier this year, Edmonton launched a series of rebates for home energy retrofits, things like new windows, furnaces and insulation.
Between Jan. 13 and March 26, 286 applications have come in through the HERA program, 175 of which have been approved.
The final pillar of the proposal is investing in green technology and natural solutions to actively remove carbon from the atmosphere.
McCabe said all of those changes would spur the economy.
“This is about readying for the future, making sure Edmonton can diversify its economy, as well as have local job creation in the meantime, right now.”
For Ward 5 Councillor Scott McKeen, incorporating environmental considerations into city planning makes sense.
“More and more of those big pools of capital are going to go to innovative, successful energy transition projects. I want Edmonton to be part of that,” he said.
“We could dig our heels in and say: ‘No. Oil is fine, energy transition is not required.’ But we’re going to miss out on a lot of investment.”
Administration expects the strategy would cost Edmonton $100 million a year, for the next decade. That works out to about three per cent of the city’s annual budget.
But Edmonton is also at the mercy of its partners if the program is to succeed, Tomaras said.
More money would need to come from the province, Ottawa and private investors – to the tune of $2.4 billion a year.