BY BILL PHILLIPS
With wildfires already being reported in some areas of the province, emergency preparedness was front-and-centre at the BC Mayor’s Caucus meeting in Prince George this week.
Mayor Lyn Hall hosted about 30 mayors from around the province who also discussed economic and social development, as well as the impact of the province’s CleanBC initiative on municipalities.
“Every one of the municipalities have the same concerns (around emergency preparedness,” said Hall after the two-day session. “Whether it be fires, whether it be floods, whether it be earthquakes, whatever it is, we all have that same issue.”
Hall said the mayor’s talked about issues such as the processes around receiving evacuees and how to streamline the registration process and how to work better with Emergency Management BC. Prince George
“There’s a commonality amongst among all municipalities in the province that we are, at some point, going to face some kind of disaster,” he said.
While dealing with wildfires and evacuees isn’t anything new, dealing with CleanBC is. The province unveiled the CleanBC initiative in December. It was developed as a pathway to achieve the province’s legislated climate targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2030, based on 2007 levels. The plan describes and quantifies measures that will eliminate 18.9 megatonnes (Mt) of its 2030 target. Remaining reduction initiatives will be quantified over the next 18 to 24 months.
The question the mayors are pondering is ‘what does that mean for municipalities?’
“We’re all coming to understand it, both the positive and potential negative implications there are on communities, and how we’re going to have to adjust and do business a little differently under the CleanBC plan,” said Hall. “Again, there’s commonality among municipalities. Everybody is going to have to deal with that.”
The CleanBC plan focuses on reducing climate pollution by shifting homes, vehicles, industry and business off burning fossil fuels and toward greater use of clean B.C. electricity and other renewable energies; boosting energy-efficient solutions, like zero-emission vehicles and home heat pumps, by making them more affordable and available for British Columbians; and becoming a destination for new investment and industry looking to meet the growing global demand for low-carbon products, services and pollution-reducing technologies.
“We heard from a panel (Monday) about the impacts of the CleanBC program on various developments,” he said. “Whether it be housing developments or commercial developments, we’re all going to have to become accustomed to it, and deal with it … We did have conversations about the cost implications, not only as a municipality, but we had that conversation with the Mayor’s Caucus as well.”
While in Prince George, the mayors participated in panel discussions and were exposed to local projects, such as the city’s downtown renewable energy system, the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, and the University’s new Wood Innovation Research Lab.
The BC mayors caucus was established in 2012 and is supported by the Union of BC Municipalities in order to share information and advance topics of common interest.
The Mayor’s Caucus will meet again at the UBCM this fall and continue many of the conversations started here in Prince George.