After reading all of the local ‘plans’, from the OCP, the whole transportation plan, and the Climate Action and Energy Plan, it is clear what North Cowichan has in store for us until 2050.
Many of these plans entail drastic changes to our lifestyles, or as previous Cllr. Marsh stated in the preface to the OCP “We will fundamentally have to change the way we live, work…” Plans include reducing vehicle usage down to 40% of residents, with other plans stating all older homes be retrofitted to meet modern step codes. While 99.9% of people interviewed tend to scoff at North Cowichan’s future ideas of life here and share sentiments such as “yeah right, they can’t make me”, we try to expose how they actually can, by looking to the country’s few years ahead of us policy-wise, such as the UK.
The UK states that homes may end up with a taxation penalty for not retrofitting, as they do with gas vehicles, to ‘cut the carbon footprint’. Costs of heating of energy has skyrocketed all over Europe, due mostly to the green agenda, and other contributors such as the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage. A recent report estimates that the UK needs to retrofit 29 million homes to “reach net-zero” by 2050. Upgrades include: Solar panels (of which the citizens of UK chuckle at, if you know anything about the weather there you would as well), insulation, triple pane windows, and heat pumps even though 80% of the UK relies on gas to heat their homes. While back here at home, we saw B.C. Hydro import an extra 10,000 gigawatt hours in 2023. This additional import covered approximately one-fifth of the province’s energy needs at a cost of about $450 million. B.C. Hydro is currently asking people to use LESS power during the winter, claiming there has been record-breaking energy demands during the recent cold snap, and is stating that our rates will increase in 2024 (again). Meanwhile, our local government feels B.C. Hydro has the ability to handle its “all-electric” future plans.
Powerex Corp., an energy marketer, is a wholly owned corporate subsidiary of BC Hydro and a key participant in wholesale energy markets across North America. Powerex’s job is to make money for the province through buying and selling energy, of which you can not track what power source they import (ie coal, LNG, etc) that ends up here for end use (Hint, the “Powered by Water” charging stations are rather misleading). Is retrofitting your home, and installing heat pumps truly ‘green’, or just another cash grab to squeeze those who currently own homes, out?
A blow to UK residents came from a recently introduced Energy Bill. Under the new Energy Bill, property owners, who do not adhere to regulations to reduce their energy consumption, could face severe consequences. These consequences include imprisonment for up to a year and fines of up to £15,000. This has caused alarm within the UK population, many of whom are already struggling to pay their energy bills. For tenants, this legislation could have several worrying implications. Property owners of older buildings are facing a challenging and costly situation, as many may not have the financial resources to make these improvements, leading to the risk of hefty fines or even imprisonment.
The UK also has a similar ‘step code’ with categories A-F, wherein you may not rent your house out if you have an E or an F rating on your home in regards to efficiency. Each home has been rated and owners must show their rating prominently if attempting to sell their homes, and therefore take a large hit on the sales price with a lower letter score as most are at about a C or D level.
A letter was sent to council here by a Climate Caucus member (yes the same ones interacting with council during the creation of our OCP – see FOIA on Coap.ca) asking to push forward a plan that would see property owners get ‘loans’ on their land to retrofit, a loan that would be added to your property tax bill, and would stay with the land when sold. They can demand your home be at a certain step code to sell or do any renovations – there are so many ways they can “make you”.
In the end, our Mayor has stated clearly that nothing usurps the Climate Action Plan which has retrofitting as one of the main ways they can meet their “carbon” targets. Maybe it is time to start speaking up and spreading the word, before you are pushed out of your house into the new 400 sq ft apartments that are being crowded into your “growth centres”, aka 15 min. cities.
By A Richards
As of the writing of this article, Dease lake, British Columbia, sits at -43°C and the town’s power is overloaded. Power is being rotated, and residents are asked to unplug everything besides heat.