Making Port Moody’s civic facilities sustainable enough to achieve the city’s climate goals will come at a cost of $5.9 million over the next seven years, and $11.7 million by 2040.
On Tuesday, council unanimously endorsed the aggressive funding framework to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from municipal buildings and equipment.
While the price tag for retrofitting these assets is “significant,” the endorsement will “solidify (Port Moody’s) position as a leader in climate action,” said Arzan Balsara, the city’s senior sustainability and energy coordinator.
“The invaluable benefits of substantial greenhouse gas reduction, a healthier environment, and a sustainable future far outweigh the initial investment,” Balsara said.
The city has been conducting energy audits on its municipal buildings as part of its efforts to achieve ambitious 2030 and 2040 emissions targets.
Findings released in June show several buildings owned by the municipality play an outsized role in the city’s total emissions.
Pollution coming from the Port Moody Recreation Complex – the city’s worst offender – would single handedly surpass the 2030 targets set by the city.
In the next seven years, Port Moody intends to reduce its emissions by 80 percent from 2017 levels, and reach net zero by 2040. That includes eliminating the use of natural gas and making city-owned facility fully electrified.
Consultants presented four pathways, but two failed to meet the 2030 targets and another more expensive option would accelerate equipment replacement by up to 10 years.
Council ultimately approved staff’s recommended pathway: achieve the climate goals at the lowest capital cost.
Equipment will be replaced with low-carbon equivalents at end-of-life, and most of Port Moody’s 22 civic facilities – which account for 54 percent of the total emissions – will need to have their energy system redesigned or upgraded.
“If the city wishes to come close to achieving the net-zero by 2040 target, action needs to begin immediately to move forward with implementing high priority carbon reduction measures (CRMs) across the portfolio,” a consultant’s report stated. “In particular, a high importance should be placed on the Recreation Complex heat recovery measure.
“Every year that implementation of CRMs is delayed will compound the effort required to implement in later years.”
Coun. Amy Lubik said the option was “the best way” forward.
“If there are pathways that don’t actually meet our 2030 targets, that doesn’t solidify us as a leader,” Lubik said. “We had the worst summer ever for forest fires in Canada, and so I think the sooner we can meet our targets, the better.”
But funding will still not come cheap.
There are 32 projects that need to be completed prior to 2030, and potential grants through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities would only cover 25 percent of the costs.
Some of the highest priority projects include a heat recovery system for the Recreation Complex’s ice plant, and electric heating for Rocky Point and Westhill pools, the civic centre and Fire Hall No. 1.
The consultant’s report stated the city does not have a dedicated funding mechanism for the emission-reduction projects, and cost was the largest barrier identified by their team.
“It is clear that the city’s current capital plan will fall short of allowing the necessary retrofits to occur,” the report stated. “Substantial investment in the short-term will ultimately set the city up for success in the long term.”
The funding framework endorsed by council prescribes incremental funding though annual transfers of $805,000 to its Climate Action Implementation Reserve.
That relatively new reserve currently only receives transfers of $50,000 annually, said Tyler Ganske, the city’s manager of financial planning, noting these transfers were paused through COVID-19 austerity budgets.
“It doesn’t have any significant balance at this point,” Ganske said.
Staff are set to report back in 2024 with a comprehensive funding model for the individual projects.
The city should reassess its options once it closes in on the 2030 targets as new technologies, rebates, funding options may become available, according to the consultants report.
Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch