Touting UNESCO recognition, Ukee unimpressed by CCM

Ucluelet won’t be carving out a piece of the Community Carbon Marketplace pie.

The Cowichan Energy Alternatives Society (CEAS) launched the Marketplace last year to create opportunities for local governments to spend their carbon-offset dollars in town and boost the profitability of local economically sustainable practices.

CEAS spokesperson Brian Roberts presented to Ucluelet’s council in February and encouraged them to sign onto the program but Ucluelet doesn’t see a fit.

“The problem is they’re fairly restrictive in what they accept as offsets,” said Ucluelet Mayor Bill Irving. “They don’t recognize in hindsight what we’ve done, it has to be new initiatives.”

He touted Ucluelet’s 2006 UNESCO Gold Award for sustainable development as evidence of the district’s past commitment to environmental investment.

“That’s acknowledgement that we’ve looked at the broader picture using advanced planning technologies and we were found to be very proactive and creative in using the existing modeling and putting it into practice on the ground to preserve the environmental and economic health in our community,” he said.

Irving was disappointed the marketplace only considers new initiatives and cited Ucluelet’s parkland requirements as an example of current environmental efforts the marketplace ignores.

The Municipal Government Act requires all subdivisions to dedicate at least 5 per cent of land to parkland but Ucluelet requires between 30-40 per cent, according to Irving.

“The objective we’re trying to achieve is to maintain that healthy green environment but also allow developers to build hubs or centres of activity,” Irving said. “The province said ‘well, that was good of you to do that but we don’t recognize that as a contribution.'” Ucluelet is one of 180 BC municipalities-BC has 188 municipalities-that signed a charter in 2008 committing to be carbon neutral by 2012.

Only 30 communities have achieved this goal and Ucluelet is not one of them.

Ucluelet spent about $3,500 purchasing carbon offsets in 2013 but Irving said the district will not rush to spend more in an effort to spend less.

“We’re somewhat reluctant to throw money at something just to save $3,000,” he said. “We’d rather have a good long-term investment for the health of the community regardless of whether it’s an offset or not.”