In 2009, the District of Summerland Council hired a Planner responsible for assisting the District in meeting the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets of Bill 27 enacted by the Province in 2008: 33% less than 2007 levels by 2020 and 80% less by 2050. To further illustrate our commitment to take action on the changing climate, the District added these targets to our Official Community Plan (OCP) and signed the BC Climate Action Charter, a voluntary agreement between the Province, Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and local governments to take action on climate change.
The Planner and nine other staff members, with community members who sat on the Climate Action Advisory Group, completed the Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) in 2011. The Action Plan incorporated public input from workshops and open houses and was a roadmap for achieving the GHG emissions reduction targets set out in the OCP. An update to the CCAP is being worked on now and is expected to come to Council for adoption later this year.
The 2011 Community Climate Action Plan includes seven climate action goals, two of which are to “promote energy conservation and dissemination of renewable energy technologies” and to “demonstrate municipal leadership”. The first goal includes two initiatives: “encourage energy conservation in buildings” and “support the development and utilization of renewable energy sources.” The second goal outlines six initiatives including: “Support Summerland’s Climate Action Fund and improve energy efficiency of municipally owned and operated buildings”.
Although there are other goals in the CCAP, this Mayor’s Minute focuses on initiatives related to energy use in Summerland. Here are just a few:
- Each year Council allocates specific funds to offset Climate Action operations.Any surplus funds at the end of each year are transferred into the District’s Climate Action Reserve Account, which can only be used to reduce GHG emissions in Summerland. This amount comes from three sources: CARIP (see below), 0.001% of the District’s annual operating budget, and the Sustainability Coordinator’s wage is paid for 50/50 from general taxation and the electrical utility fund.
- Currently, all energy sold in Summerland is purchased from FortisBC, then distributed by the Summerland Electrical Utility. To advance opportunities to benefit from local renewable energy projects, in 2016 the District hired a Sustainability/Alternative Energy Coordinator; in 2018 the General Manager, Electrical Utility position was added to District staff. There are many benefits to owning our electrical utility, including be able to generate energy locally and keep money (that currently goes to FortisBC) in the local economy.
- Early last year, Summerland was conditionally awarded $6 million in federal grant funding for a Solar+Storage project, an initiative that will see an array of approximately 3200 solar panels and battery storage added to the electrical utility’s assets. A proposed site has been selected, but a final decision will not be made by council until further testing confirms this site is suitable for the project.
- The District reports annually on emission reductions to the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP). In 2018, the District received $32,883 from this program.
- Summerland has three Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations installed and has applied for funding to add two Level 3 stations. On August 12, Council is discussing an application for funding to install additional stations throughout the District. (An empty battery takes approximately 4 hours to fully charge at a Level 2 station; 30 minutes to charge to 80% full at a Level 3 station.)
- A switch to LED streetlights completed in 2018/2019 is expected to save the community over $72,000 each year in operating costs.
- In 2015 the District implemented its Distributed Generation (Net Metering) Program. This program allows residents with their own energy generation systems, such as rooftop solar, to connect to the Summerland electrical grid and receive a credit for any excess energy produced.
- The District’s net metering program has recently been updated and will be re-launched at an open-house style event on August 27 from 3 to 6 pm at the Arena Banquet Room.
Please note that Mayor’s Minute will not be in the August 22 edition of the Herald; the column will resume August 29.
“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” — Benjamin Franklin
Summerland residents can breathe a sigh of relief that the 2019 tax season is over: they have claimed the suitable Homeowner’s Grant (if eligible) and submitted their payment. Summerlanders can be assured that services will continue for another year; that infrastructure will be maintained, repaired, and/or replaced; and that public facilities and amenities will continue to be operated safely.
But what does this mean? Where do our tax dollars go?
Here is a short list to give you an idea of how the District of Summerland puts your tax dollars to work for you. Starred items (*) are related to Summerland’s share of regional district services.
- Okanagan Regional Library, Summerland branch
- Debt financing, both municipal and Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS)*
- Regional transit, including the new route to Kelowna beginning in September*
- 911 emergency service (improvements only)*
- Emergency management, including the Emergency Operations Centre*
- Penticton Regional Hospital, including the David E. Kampe Tower*
- South Okanagan Conservation Plan*
- Mosquito control*
- Illegal dumping*
- Invasive species*
- Regional economic development (Okanagan Film Commission)*
- Regional Growth Strategy*
- Solid Waste Management Plan*
- Okanagan Basin Water Board*
- Regional trails (KVR Trail, for example)*
- RCMP (Summerland detachment and special investigation)
- Summerland Fire Department
- Recreational facilities, including the Aquatic Centre, Arena and Skatepark
- Trails, including Giant’s Head, Conkle Mountain, Centennial and others
- Parks, sports fields, and beaches
- Summerland Campground and Rodeo Grounds
- Roads (not including Highway 97)
- Summerland Museum and Summerland Arts and Cultural Centre
- Summerland Chamber of Commerce
- Festival of Lights
- Grants to non-profit groups such as the Summerland Food Bank and Resources, Ryga Arts Festival, Summerland Fall Fair, and others
- Fleet vehicles and equipment, including fire trucks
- Capital projects: plans and designs; upgrades, repairs and maintenance; replacement and new
- Downtown Beautification including banners and hanging baskets
- Landscaping and maintenance
- Garbage and recycling collection and landfill management
- Cemetery services
- Operation of municipal hall
The salaries and wages for District staff (operations) and the stipend for the Council (governance) are also funded through taxpayer dollars. Expenditures, including wages, that are related to utilities (water, sewer and electrical) are funded by monthly utility charges.
The front counter finance staff who receive your property tax payment collects it on behalf of the District of Summerland, the RDOS, and others. Timely payment of property taxes, including claiming the Homeowners Grant, is every property owners’ responsibility. If you are late making your payment and facing a penalty, take ownership for your decision. Be civil to District staff.
It is easy to grumble about paying taxes—I’ve done it too—but if those who benefit from the services don’t pay for them … who should?