The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) has voted to adopt recommendations from the Energy Resilience Task Force (ERTF), an initiative struck to help the district prepare for "Peak Oil."
At a July 25 meeting the regional board, which includes directors from Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, and the unincorporated areas that surround them, voted to direct regional district staff to prepare a refined implementation strategy that would reflect the "aspirational" aspects of the plan, as opposed to mandatory.
Directors also voted to develop some guiding principles for the task force's recommendations and group initiatives by type and degree of effort.
The task force provided the regional district with 200 recommendations, gleaned from input at public open houses as it asked the public for help in preparing for Peak Oil, a point in which the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction has been reached and the rate of production enters terminal decline.
With falling supply, the price of oil would only become more expensive.
The most supported of all recommendations was the championing of Agricultural Land Trusts, which would involve buying land for food growing and protecting it in perpetuity.
The total cost of implementing such a recommendation would be approximately $5,400 and would involve buying land to provide opportunities for a working farm, a community garden or agricultural park to allow food security, education and tourism opportunities. Such trusts are already found in many communities throughout North America.
Yet another recommendation, one that the task force felt could be implemented by 2014, was lobbying for changes that would support B.C.'s economy such as legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and marijuana-related products.
Marijuana, the task force said, is considered a good painkiller to replace pharmaceuticals, which it claims could become expensive and scarce in a peak oil scenario.
Lobbying, the task force said, would involve writing letters to the province for an initiative that it claims has "lots of public support."
Regional district board chair Susie Gimse said in an e-mail that many of the task force recommendations are "aspirational" in nature and this is one of them.
"The SLRD has not dealt specifically with this recommendation," she said. "We may choose to forward it on to the various provincial and federal ministries for information. Drug legislation is dealt with at higher levels of government."
SLRD to move forward with ICSP
Directors with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District also voted to move forward with an Integrated Corporate Sustainability Plan (ICSP), a plan that is expected to bring the district's corporate policies into line with a more "sustainable" paradigm.
"Good planning policy should include sustainability policy," Gimse said in an e-mail. "This type of work is now standard for most communities."
Originally envisioned as an Integrated "Community" Sustainability Plan, it will now focus on in-house details at the regional district that will help it reorganize in a more sustainable manner.
ICSP is a provincial initiative that originated with the 2005 Federal/Provincial/UBCM Federal Gas Tax Agreement. It asks communities to implement actions that can secure their long-term well-being.
Initiatives considered as part of an ICSP can include linking land use designations to the impact on water supply and transportation, as well as having a local government embrace sustainability goals such as energy efficiency for homes and commercial buildings.
That can mean a program to upgrade anything from hot water tanks, heating systems and windows in a residential home or commercial property to ensure they use energy more sparingly, yet still ensure the well-being of their occupants.
The regional district has budgeted $50,000 to carry out the ICSP process and requested another $50,000 from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) through its General Strategic Priorities Fund.
The potential in-house staff cost of carrying out the plan is $26,520 and potential external costs are $49,550. The regional district can proceed with work on the plan without being approved for funding, but a decision is expected on its request from UBCM by the end of August.