Throne Speech: Energy, Sprawl, and Local Governments

News Release from the Community Energy Association

Yesterday, the Lieutenant Governor, in her speech from the throne, outlined several energy-related initiatives and programs that will affect local governments and the services that they provide across British Columbia. Urban planning, buildings, landfills, transit, and infrastructure are all implicated. As Dale Littlejohn, a staff member of Community Energy Association said, ‘There is a lot in this throne speech for local governments
interested in energy”.

The Community Energy Association (a collaboration of the UBCM, the Province of British Columbia, utilities and other key partners) is available to assist local governments in analyzing the implications of the initiatives and programs announced and to assess the
resultant, new energy opportunities.

The intent to create incentives for local governments to reduce urban sprawl has significant potential. As Dan Roger, president of the Community Energy Association said, “Urban form is one of the most important ways that local governments can influence energy use”. Below is a summary relevant items in the throne speech related to energy and local governments.


  • Urban sprawl: Sprawl was recognized as putting pressure on a limited, productive land base and increasing servicing costs for property taxpayers (for new roads, bridges, and rapid transit; for sewage and water services; and for increased energy and transmission). Larger lots, larger homes, excessive fees, and longer time frames have pushed home prices beyond the economic reach of too many. Working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the private sector the government will develop new incentives to encourage smaller lot sizes and smaller, more energy efficient homes that use less land, less energy, less water, and are less expensive to own.
  • Building Code: A new, unified B.C. Green Building Code will be developed over the next year with industry, professional, and community representatives. Incentives will be implemented to retrofit existing homes and buildings to make them more energy efficient.
  • Landfills: Legislation will be developed over the next year to phase in new
    requirements for methane capture in municipal solid waste facilities.
  • Transportation: Over the next year, new regional transit options will be established
    for our major urban areas in the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley, the Capital Regional District and the Okanagan.
  • Infrastructure Improvements: The $21-million Towns For Tomorrow infrastructure
    program will help small towns across B.C. make improvements in their communities over the next three years.
  • Non-motorized Transit Alternatives: A $40-million LocalMotion Fund will also help local governments build walkways, cycling paths, disability access, and other improvements aimed at getting people out of their cars and back on their feet.
  • “Green Cities Project”: Foster innovations that reduce our imprint on the planet
    through sustainable community planning. An element of this project will be the promotion of “urban forestry” and new community gardens. In addition, the Green City
    Awards will recognize B.C.’s most “environmentally friendly” communities.

Through the Throne Speech delivered yesterday, the BC Provincial Government has firmly established climate change and energy as priorities.

The Challenge: Highlighting the magnitude of the challenge, the Lieutenant Governor emphasized “Little has been done to seriously address this problem, which is literally threatening life on Earth as we know it.” She further stressed that “if we fail to act
aggressively and shoulder our responsibility, we know what our children can expect … Our wildlife, plant life, and ocean life will all be hurt in ways we cannot know and dare not imagine.”

The Government: For the past six years, the government of British Columbia has been working to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), reducing it by 24% between 2000 and 2004. This move will continue, as it will consider options for the “government of
British Columbia [to be] carbon neutral by 2010.” One way in which the government will reach its goals is by promising that “all new cars leased or purchased by the provincial government will be hybrid vehicles.”

The Province: The speech announced that actions “to reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020” were being initiated. This “will place British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions at 10 per cent under 1990 levels by
2020” according to the Throne speech. Further, “A Climate Action Team will be established by the government to work with First Nations, other governments, industries,
environmental organizations, and the scientific community to determine the most credible, aggressive, and economically viable sector targets possible for 2012 and 2016.”


  • The new Energy Plan (which is expected to be released sometime in March) will require British Columbia to be electricity self-sufficient by 2016.
  • A new personal conservation ethic will form the core of citizen actions in the years ahead. “Conservation provides huge benefits at minimal cost.”
  • All new and existing electricity produced in B.C. will be required to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.
  • 90 per cent of our electricity comes from clean, renewable sources.
  • 100% carbon sequestration will be required for any coal-fired project.
  • Real-time, in-home smart metering will be launched to help homeowners measure and reduce their energy consumption.


  • New tailpipe emission standards for all new vehicles sold in B.C. will be phased in over the period 2009 to 2016. Those standards will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% for automobiles.
  • A low-carbon fuel standard will be established, reducing the carbon intensity of all passenger vehicles by at least 10% by 2020.
  • $89 million will be invested through a federal-provincial partnership for hydrogen fuelling stations and the world’s first fleet of 20 fuel cell buses.


  • A new $25-million Innovative Clean Energy Fund will encourage alternative energy solutions and options for clean renewable energy.
  • Additional investments in tree planting and forests, nature’s carbon sinks, were announced.
  • Green Institutional Infrastructure: “Green” universities, colleges, hospitals, schools, prisons, ferries, and airports will be actively promoted.


  • Public education and information was noted as critical to real engagement on energy issues.
  • Global warming will be included in school curricula for children.
  • A Citizens’ Conservation Council will be established and funded.

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