Carbon offsets create debate at town council

Clearwater town council approved purchasing 241 tonnes of carbons offsets on Tuesday of last week

Clearwater town council approved purchasing 241 tonnes of carbons offsets on Tuesday of last week – but it was done with objections from several councillors.

“This is not well thought out,” said councillor Shelley Sim. “I’m voting no.”

Gord Heisterman said that there is a lot of money moving back and forth under the program.

“What are they accomplishing?” he asked.

The offsets will be purchased at a price of $20 per tonne for a total of $4,820. The money is to come from a carbon tax rebate received for 2013 of $5,425.

The remaining rebate will be held back for purchasing offsets in the future.

Purchasing the offsets will allow the district to say it was carbon neutral in 2013.

Director of finance Sheila Thiessen noted in her report that District of Clearwater signed on to the BC Climate Action Charter in 2008.

As a participant in the charter, the District receives an annual rebate of the carbon tax it pays.

Carbon neutrality or working towards carbon neutrality is a requirement when applying for grants and other programs.

Clearwater’s greenhouse gas emissions went up from 185 tonnes in 2012 to 241 tonnes in 2013.

The increase mostly was due to taking over the Dutch Lake community center and the road maintenance contract.

Replacing the propane heat at the Dutch Lake community center with biomass (wood chips) would reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced during operations but would not qualify as a carbon offset, said Thiessen. Only projects outside the municipality’s operations do.

Last year the municipality purchased offsets from Pacific Carbon Trust. However, that Crown corporation is no longer active.

This year it proposes to purchase its offsets from Offsetters, a Vancouver-based business owned by Ledcor.

 

Carbon offset projects sponsored by Offsetters include several greenhouses in the Fraser Valley that have converted from natural gas to biomass heating.