Local spending of carbon tax pushed

Sending carbon money overseas is a poor incentive, says mayor

If municipalities have to shell out for their carbon footprint, the money should stay in the area and be used to help those same municipalities make that footprint shrink.

That was the message Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek put forward at Wednesday’s special council meeting, noting that sending carbon money elsewhere provides no incentive to change, while requiring the town to pay and having that money available to retrofit and improve the town’s emission standards provides both carrot and stick.

“We as a town have agreed to go with this charter for clean air and carbon footprint,” he said. “It was always thought it wasn’t right that we send money to offset our carbon footprint overseas in some kind of account to basically buy pollution rights in other countries.”

Westbroek said he made an issue out of it at the Regional District of Nanaimo and they have begun looking into what kind of fund would keep the money in the area.

“It’s called the carbon corporate climate change fund,” he said. “It’s a reserve fund where you would put your tonnage of carbon you emit, at $25 per ton, and when you want to improve a building to make them more energy efficient, it would come out of that fund. To me, that makes sense.”

Westbroek instructed town staff to look into whether the fund should be set up locally or in conjunction with the regional district.

“We should examine whether we should be part of it, or have a stand alone fund ourselves,” he said.

Other issues he expects to be front and centre at the UBCM, he said, include the pricing system with BCFerries and the concern about the installation of BC Hydro smart meters.

As well, he said, the need for a health care facility will be at the top of the agenda, as will be the need to keep Kwalikum Secondary School open into the future.

Westbroek will be joined at the UBCM by councillors Jack Wilson and Barry Avis, as well as chief administrative officer Mark Brown.

“We will meet with several MLAs and ministers to bring our concerns forward,” Westbroek said.

The UBCM runs this week and will include municipal officials from around the province.