A pre-pandemic memory of MarketFest in Nelson. Photo: Screenshot from Nelson Next

A pre-pandemic memory of MarketFest in Nelson. Photo: Screenshot from Nelson Next

Nelson’s climate change plan calls for big changes in transportation, buildings

Nelson Next also addresses energy efficiency, ecosystem health, renewable energy, waste management

Carrying out Nelson’s climate change plan over the next several decades will require re-ordering of priorities for citizens, according to a city councillor and the city’s mayor.

Nelson Next is a multi-decade planning document,” says Councillor Rik Logtenberg. “It will require a fairly big transformation in everybody’s behaviour and in their daily routines and habits.”

The plan lists hundreds of actions, some small, some very ambitious, that will help us reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The result of almost two years of research, discussion and consultation, the plan is centred around aspirations in seven areas: transportation, buildings, mitigating the effects of climate change, ecosystem health, renewable energy, waste management, and municipal operations.

Nelson’s goal is a 75 per cent reduction in community wide GHGs by 2030 and net zero by 2040. The city is aiming for net zero in its own operations by 2030.

In Nelson, according to research done for the city’s climate change plan, 59 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and 33 per cent from heating with natural gas.

Transportation and buildings are two emission sources that municipalities have a lot of control over, through urban design and building regulations. So it is hardly surprising that they are the listed in Nelson Next as the first two of Nelson Next’s seven aspirations.


In the area of transportation, the plan contains a list of about two dozen tactics, including:

• Offer a limited-time free parking pass for electric vehicles registered in Nelson

• Implement and enforce an anti-idling bylaw

• Increase the parking meter rate in the designated downtown area to reduce congestion, traffic noise, and pollution

• Require large subdivisions to contribute to a fund earmarked for active transportation infrastructure, upgrades, and connectivity

• Explore the feasibility of an on-demand, electric micro-transit shuttle to move residents and guests through downtown and surrounding areas on a continuous service loop

• Establish a low emissions zone – a defined area where access by certain types of fossil-fuel vehicles is prohibited

• Invest annually in the design and construction of new walking and cycling infrastructure as set out in the city’s Active Transportation Plan.

Logtenberg says these things will be introduced gradually and experimentally, moving from the easy-to-accept to the more difficult. As an example, he points to the city’s electric bicycle subsidy program, already in place, in which homeowners are offered low-interest loans to be repaid on their hydro bill.

This program aims to get people used to electric bikes. It also helps people identify as someone who is taking action on the climate crisis, Logtenberg says.

“At the beginning we want to prioritize actions that will help people become more receptive to the harder things that will come later on.”

But by then perhaps they won’t seem so hard, he says.

Logtenberg said the city has already started with some of those basics, including, in addition to e-bike subsidies, the High Street bicycle corridor, installation of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs), and minimum requirements to make all new buildings EV charging-ready.

He said the plan looks at transportation as a network including transit, automobiles, parking, biking, and walking.

The goal, according to Nelson Next, is to ensure that “passenger and public transport is clean, active, and shared … active and public transportation infrastructure is accessible, connected, and maintained … and Nelson is congestion and pollution-free.”


In the area of infrastructure and buildings, Nelson Next contains a list of about two dozen tactics, including:

• Further accelerate the adoption of the BC Energy Step Code beyond provincial requirements

• Explore low embodied carbon development incentives and local replacement options (such as mass timber) for construction materials that have the highest carbon footprint

• Develop a solar-ready bylaw to advance solar hot water systems

• Incentivize the switch from wood burning stoves to low carbon heating

• Incentivize landlords to complete energy efficiency upgrades through reduced permitting

• Amend the Official Community Plan to allow for row housing throughout the city

• Promote and support natural, carbon-negative building initiatives that utilize local, renewable resources

• Require zero carbon/low carbon construction sites (long term)

Mayor John Dooley, who has a background in construction, told the Nelson Star he favours bringing in the Energy Step Code in sync with the province, and he said the code’s increasing requirements of energy efficiency will gradually become normalized.

Nelson council adopted Step 3 of the Step Code in March.

Dooley said the issue of embodied carbon (the carbon footprint of the manufacture and transportation of building materials) has been discussed in the background for a while but “this over time will become front of mind. There will be a slow, gradual shift to looking at embodied carbon.”

He echoed Logtenberg’s concern that changes have to be gradual and understandable, each one building on the last.

“You have to make sure that people understand what you’re doing,” Dooley said, adding that ideally the changes should not increase building costs.

Nelson Next lists four climate actions already underway in the city with respect to buildings and infrastructure: early adoption of the BC Step Code, the EcoSave energy retrofit program, the annual green home and energy show, and sustainable design guidelines.

“I think going forward, we’re probably going to find that people are going to be looking for certain certification,” Dooley says. “When they’re buying a home, they’re going to be looking at energy efficiency. They’re going to be asking questions we might not be asking now. But now’s the time to meet that code.”

The goal, according to Nelson Next, is to ensure that new buildings are net-zero ready and have low embodied carbon, that existing buildings are retrofitted to save energy, that the city is a leader in green building research and innovation, and that financial barriers to energy efficient buildings are reduced.

All of the other five aspirations in Nelson Next (mitigating the effects of climate change, ecosystem health, renewable energy, waste management, and municipal operations) are also discussed in the plan with lists of strategies and supporting research.

To explore the plan’s discussion of all those areas, read Nelson Next at https://bit.ly/3u0oPi6.


Nelson council approves climate change plan

Nelson offers financing for homeowners to purchase electric bikes

Climate change: Nelson’s mayor calls out people who have not used the EcoSave program

• Provincial energy incentives complement Nelson’s EcoSave program

• Nelson energy retrofit program will expand to rural areas

• Nelson city hall to help staff buy electric bikes

Nelson council delays new energy efficiency rules for new houses

Nelson council increases energy efficiency requirements for new homes

Nelson researches climate impact of embodied carbon in new buildings

Consider carbon footprint of building materials, consultant tells Nelson council


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Climate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public opposition to a planned road was expressed on posters on the hiking trails above the Nelson cemetery. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Logging company abandons road construction planned near Nelson hiking trails

RDCK, public, and transportation ministry opposed the road

A concept of the new Kaslo Bridge, which is expected to be complete by November. Illustration: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Kaslo Bridge to be replaced

Construction on the $6.19-million project begins this month

Stuart Ashley Jones, 56, was at Grand Forks provincial court for sentencing on May 5, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks man shot by police during massive flood sentenced to house arrest

Stuart Ashley Jones was shot by a Grand Forks Mountie after ramming two police cruisers in May 2018

The provincial government is funding upgrades to campgrounds in the Slocan Valley. File photo
Slocan Valley campgrounds to receive upgrades

New Denver, Slocan and Silverton have been granted $300,000

COVID-19 cases in B.C. for the week of April 25 to May 1. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Nelson surpasses 100 COVID-19 cases in 2021

The West Kootenays meanwhile saw numbers drop at the end of April

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police photo of suspected cat thief was just a woman with her own cat

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Most Read