Whistler adopts a new strategy for electric vehicles

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Council Briefs: plumbing and building permit fee increases considered; Council hears update on step code

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) voted to adopt a new electric vehicle strategy at the June 7 council meeting.

The new strategy proposes a series of measures that could help increase adoption of zero-emissions transportation, with the goal of having 50% of cars registered in Whistler be electric vehicles by 2030.

In 2020, Whistler Council adopted the Climate Action Big Moves strategy and a new climate goal of reducing Whistler’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% below 2007 levels by 2030.

The 2030 goal will be difficult to achieve, especially as the municipality has continued to grow, both in terms of population and attendance. Controlling vehicle emissions is the single most important action the municipality can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, passenger vehicles are the largest contributor to the municipality’s emissions, accounting for approximately 54% of Whistler’s total emissions in 2019.

“Our priority to reduce these emissions is to get people out of the car. We want to prioritize the preferred modes of transport: walking, cycling, public transport, etc. That’s why our first big move is to get people out of the car with the goal that half of all trips are by active transportation or public transit,” said RMOW Climate Action Coordinator Luisa Burhenne, during a presentation to the council.

“We realize that there will always be people driving, and we need to address those emissions as well. That’s why our second Big Move goal is to have 50% of all cars in Whistler [be] zero-emission vehicles by 2030.”

The goal of the Whistler EV strategy is to identify actions and create a strategic and coordinated approach to achieve the second Big Move goal, “and to do this we must consider many different aspects and achieve competing priorities. “, Burhenne said.

The measures proposed in the new strategy are to be completed in the short, medium and long term. Short-term measures include developing a zero-emission municipal fleet strategy, increasing community and industry awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles, and expanding the electric vehicle charging network in the municipality. .

Thanks to a recently approved CleanBC grant, the electric vehicle charging network will benefit from an expansion of 41 charging points across the Sea to Sky, many of which are located in Whistler. In the long term, the municipality hopes to have 348 Level 2 or 87 DC fast chargers, or an equivalent combination of the two in the municipality to keep pace with the transition to electric vehicles.

The difference in the number of charging stations needed has to do with how quickly the systems can fill an EV. A DC fast charger can charge an electric vehicle from empty to full in as little as an hour, compared to three to six hours on a Level 2 charger.

Longer term measures include broader goals that will require cooperation with other levels of government and industry partners. This includes promoting high-impact government policies, training and capacity building for electricians, and electrifying school and transit buses.

The RMOW and Tourism Whistler conducted a survey to understand some of the concerns of residents and tourists regarding the use of electric vehicles, which received 1,440 responses, allowing staff to better understand some of the challenges electric vehicle owners face. faced in the municipality.

Through the survey, some concerns were raised by residents who live in strata who cited a lack of access to home charging and barriers to renovating their buildings.

The municipal strategy aims for 100% of strata to be under an EV-ready plan by 2030. This is in addition to asking the provincial government to pass “right to charge” legislation that would amend the BC Strata Property Act and require strata councils. to meet reasonable resident requests for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The survey also noted that Whistler tenants are struggling to access home charging stations and Whistler hotels need more electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which the new strategy will help address.

Find more information at Whistler.ca/bigmoves.

INCREASES IN PLUMBING AND BUILDING PERMIT FEES CONSIDERED

Building permit and plumbing fees in Whistler may soon increase.

At its June 7 meeting, council moved a motion asking staff to consider amending the current Building and Plumbing Fee By-law to increase fees.

The exact by-law change will be decided and presented to council at a later date, but the general direction is that building and plumbing charges should be increased in the municipality.

The last increase in building permit fees was in 2012, said Melissa Hollis, manager of RMOW’s building department.

“Over the past 10 years, the authorization process and the resources needed to support it have changed significantly. However, applications have become more complex and involve increased staff time for review and processing, as well as more resources to support inspections and regulatory reviews.

“The construction industry has also evolved in the community over the past decade. Current fees are not comparable to many other communities in the area. Since the RMOW fee structure is significantly lower, a fee change will adjust this disparity and make it a fairer fee.

With this in mind, “an analysis of permit fees and required changes must be conducted to continue to support the additional resources and staff time needed to continue to maintain and improve the appropriate level of service to the community,” said Hollis.

According to the report to council, “Staff anticipate that changes to the fees detailed in the current Schedule B could be in the range of a 25-40% increase to align with comparable local communities and provide sufficient additional funding resources to support improved services to the community.

The additional revenue would be used to address the current backlog of permits facing the municipality by increasing available staff resources.

BOARD HEARS UPDATE ON STAGE CODE

The goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings in Whistler took a step forward when Whistler Mayor and Council heard an update on staff’s progress in passing the BC Energy Step Code for buildings at the June 7 council meeting.

Buildings are one of the municipality’s biggest GHG emitters, accounting for 38% of Whistler’s emissions in 2019. When the pandemic reduced car use in 2020, that figure jumped to more than 50%.

The Step Code is an optional compliance pathway in the BC Building Code that local governments can use to encourage or require a level of energy efficiency in new construction that goes beyond the requirements of the BC Building Code.

In 2018, the RMOW amended its building and plumbing regulation by-law, moving Whistler directly to Stage 3 of the Stage Code for Smaller and Less Complex Residential Buildings.

In 2032, the provincial government will require all municipalities in the province to adopt the measures of the Building Step Code.

The new plans were due to be approved in the summer of 2022, with new regulations being implemented in early 2023, however, this has been delayed by staff, who want to see what new Step Code rules will be that the province will announce. look like.

According to RMOW Climate Action Coordinator Luisa Burhenne, the main difference between the provincial and municipal approach that has been drafted is that the provincial approach allows the RMOW to cap whole-building emissions.

“While we have put a lot of effort into writing our approach, are very diligent in engaging stakeholders and making sure everyone is on board, we also feel there are many benefits of taking the provincial approach because the provincial approach is much more detailed,” she said.

“They set specific greenhouse gas targets for different buildings by use … and they have different greenhouse gas intensities for construction time. Ultimately, we believe the provincial approach is potentially more effective in achieving our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings in the future.

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