New Westminster considers using more renewable energy

Councillor proposes 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050

By Jake Wray, News Editor

New Westminster may begin exploring a phase-out of non-renewable energy in the city by 2050, after a motion to do so passed first reading at a city council meeting on August 28.
The motion, proposed by Councillor Chuck Puchmayr, states: “Therefore be it resolved; that the city of New Westminster investigate setting a target of becoming 100 per cent dependent on renewable energy by 2050 and establish clear measurable targets toward achieving this goal.” Several other council members voiced support for the motion, which must pass second and third readings at a future council meeting before taking effect.
Puchmayr said at the meeting that he was inspired to propose the motion after attending a conference about renewable energy.
“The motion came out of a conference, Renewable Cities conference, that I attended and listened to some very interesting speakers from all over the world and some communities and cities that are already years ahead of us with regards to [renewable energy],” he said.
Puchmayr said he initially had reservations about transitioning to renewable energy but he became convinced of the benefits.
“At one time, I had some concerns with regards to us implementing this,” he said. “But the more I looked into it [I] saw the opportunities that exist by us creating our own energy, and even residents creating their own energy, and actually having surpluses of energy that the city could actually sell to other users.”
Councillor Patrick Johnstone, who voted in favour of first reading of the motion, said he supports the motion in concept but he has some logistical concerns and would like to hear more information.
“Aspirationally I am in support of the idea, of the motion, and of the community taking an aggressive approach toward renewable energy,” he said. “Before we actually set the goal and say we’re going to hit it, we need to have a better discussion about the reality of what it means for operations in the city.”
Mayor Jonathan Coté said in the meeting that he thinks the motion is conceptually aligned with other initiatives the City of New Westminster has undertaken.
“This motion definitely connects to the values and the work that the City of New Westminster has done regarding environmental sustainability and our efforts to fight climate change,” he said. “I think there’s no doubt we need a lot more information as a decision-making body as to the actual implications and how we would go about achieving this target, but I think this motion is definitely a first step in initiating that discussion, and I think, as we learn more, it certainly could become a large part of the city’s strategic plan and priorities we’re working on.”
The City of Vancouver has already implemented similar targets, pledging to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, as well as to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent of the 2007 emission levels.