Climate & Sustainability
The City of Castlegar takes our commitments to sustainability and a low carbon future seriously, by encouraging smart decision making.
The City of Castlegar is a signatory to the West Kootenay 100% Renewable Energy Plan and is committed to climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.
This report provides a pathway to a renewable energy future by 2050 with a focus on BIG MOVES in transportation, building, zero waste, renewable energy, and other supportive actions.
Read below to learn more about what BIG MOVES the City of Castlegar has already committed to or is actively working on.
Meeting our mobility needs is the highest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the City, contributing up to 63% of the City’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation includes personal vehicles, transit, active transportation, and commercial hauling. A shift to remote work can also reduce emission by reducing local mobility needs.
Electrifying the Car
Shifting to electric and hybrid vehicles over the next ten years is the biggest impact BIG move most communities in the Kootenay region can make. For the City of Castlegar this would equate to replacing 1,430 gasoline or diesel vehicles by 2030.
This is an ambitious target that will require installation of a robust EV charging network in publicly accessible locations and in association with new construction. Public EV charging stations can currently be found at the public library and visitor information center and were installed as part of the Accelerate Kootenays partnership. More work needs to be done to expand the public EV charging system and to ensure new builds are EV Ready.
Active Transportation & Transit
Not everyone wants, needs, or owns a personal vehicle. The City has created a robust active transportation system and continues to make improvements along Columbia Avenue to support multi-modal transportation needs through its Complete Streets program.
To meet 2030 energy targets, the average person in Castlegar would need to reduce their personal vehicle trips by 890 kilometers a year, by using transit or active transportation. The creation of multi-modal park and ride facilities, inviting and safe multi-modal transportation corridors, and the encouragement of new and accessible transit routes can help meet these targets.
The buildings where we live, work, and play account for 32% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Existing residential and commercial buildings account for a significant amount of these emissions and improvements are the second most effective BIG move. Castlegar will need to retrofit 1,120 existing buildings by 2030 to meet targets.
Better Existing Buildings
Actions that can be taken to support deep energy retrofits in existing commercial and residential buildings include improvements to heating and cooling systems (heat pumps), windows, and insulation. The City is a participant in the Regional District of Central Kootenays Regional Energy Efficiency Program (REEP) and Woodstove Exchange Program which provides free energy assessments and connects residents and business owners to subsidies and rebates that support energy efficiency improvements.
Better New Buildings
The City of Castlegar was an early adopter of BC Energy Step Code and new construction will need to meet Step 3 for Part 9 Construction and Step 2 for Part 3 Construction starting December 31, 2022. The City provides a mid-construction blower test rebate to assist builders in ensuring they can meet these objectives.
The City was also a participant in a Low Carbon Construction Pilot in 2021 in collaboration with City of Nelson. Education and outreach are an important component of ensuring that new construction considers both operational and embodied carbon.
Zero Waste Actions
Castlegar residents are already great reducers of waste and produce less waste per person than any other community in the West Kootenays. However, there is still lots that can be done, to reduce the 4.5% of greenhouse gas emissions that we do produce.
Kitchen & Yard Waste
The City has a yard waste collection program that diverts this waste and returns it to residents as ready to use compost to feed local gardens and support local food production. The City will also be introducing curbside organics pick up in 2023 as part of the RDCK’s Resource Recovery Plan.
Public education in collaboration with Wildsafe BC will be an important component of this program to ensure that human-wildlife conflict is minimized as the City is a recognized Bear Aware community.
It is anticipated that Castegar will continue to see longer, hotter summers and shorter, warmer winters with more intense rainfall events. The City will see an increase in localized flood events in the spring and fall, and more frequent summer heat waves, air quality advisories, and increased risk of wildfire. To ensure the community remains resilient to these changes, the City has adopted several adaptation strategies.
Water Meter Program
Thanks to the participation of our residents, water meters are now in use in almost all homes, and local businesses and industry continue to work on installing their own. Water meters are a proven way for communities to save water and extend the lifespan of water and sewer systems and treatment plants.
Water Ambassador Program
The City has been a participant in the Water Ambassador Program since 2010. The program provides free assessments of outdoor watering needs through irrigation and xeriscaping assessments during the summer months. The program also enables access to materials such as drip irrigation kits, water saving grass seeds, hose timers, rain gauges, information on the latest water saving alternatives, and much more.
Air Quality & Cooling Shelters
The City has funded the creation of three air quality and cooling shelters that can be activated in response to prolonged extreme heat events, like that experienced in 2021, and in circumstances of prolonged air quality advisories during wildfire season.
Community Wildfire Protection Plan
The City has developed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that was adopted in 2020. The City has also collaborated with Selkirk College to undertake wildfire mitigation measures on city owned land and offers free Fire Smart assessments for private property. Since this program was introduced, the City has had three neighbourhoods achieve national recognition as fire smart communities. These include Stellar Place, Sandalwood Court, and Lindmar Estates.