City committed to sustainability goals despite slow progress

By Jill Sperling
February 2, 2017 - 5:45pm Updated: February 2, 2017 - 6:24pm

KAMLOOPS — The Sustainable Kamloops Plan was created in 2010, listing a number of eco-friendly targets for the city to reach by the year 2020. 

It's now three years out from that deadline, and only 17 per cent of those goals are considered on target. 

However, city officials aren't feeling discouraged. 

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"56 per cent of our targets we're making progress towards the target, which given that we actually set out for ourselves fairly ambitious targets, we're quite pleased with that," said Sustainability Services Supervisor Glen Cheetham. "That demonstrates that we are working hard and making progress towards a good number of our targets."

In 2016 there were 258 individual community garden plots in the city. That's an area increase of 93 per cent since 2010. With a goal of 100 per cent by 2020, Kamloops is well on its way. 

Where the city has the most work to do is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

One device that's working to do just that is a Realice system at Brock Arena. It allows ice to be made without the use of hot water. 

"When you have to heat up water to 70 °C, you use a lot of natural gas, and that same heat that hits the ice would then have to be removed with the compressors," Cheetham said. "With Realice, we're putting cold water on the ice." 

According to the Community Energy and Emissions Inventory, Kamloops reduced its community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by approximately two per cent from 2007-2010. 

The goal is a 40 per cent reduction by 2020. 

"40 per cent is fairly aggressive," said TRU's director of environment and sustainability, Jim Gudjonson. "If they commit to it, certainly they can. We've decreased our greenhouse gases by over 30 per cent in the last four years and we are on target to be in the 45 per cent range within a year and a half."

Most of TRU's success in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to improving building efficiencies, but the university is also focused on decreasing the number of single occupancy vehicles on campus.

"We're developing our alternate transportation in terms of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure," Gudjonson said. "So, that's improved bike shelters, we're actually going to enclose this one and lock it with a fob system so folks feel a little bit better about putting their expensive bikes in here. As well, we're developing our own fleet of bikes."

In addition to bikes, TRU has a fleet of hybrid vehicles for staff use, and has recently welcomed the car-sharing service Zipcar. 

It's initiatives like these that give the city hope for a greener future.

"While it's still very much a big challenge ahead of us, no question about it, I think where I find my optimism is that there's a willingness to try and that our community has shown a commitment to improving our carbon footprint," Cheetham said. 

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