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Climate

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]More development will lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions via increased energy use in buildings, an increased transportation footprint, and increases in waste. Energy use in buildings currently accounts for 54% of Canmore’s greenhouse gas emissions.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text]TSMV climate change impacts

*The information below is based on consultation with Bow Valley Climate Action and a review of the FINAL ASPs submitted to the Town of Canmore in December 2020.

No one has estimated the amount of additional greenhouse gas emissions that will be generated from the proposed Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek developments. Bow Valley Climate Action is hoping to undertake this analysis – which is pretty complicated – in early 2021.

Unfortunately, the Town of Canmore currently does not require that developers estimate projected increases in greenhouse gas emissions in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In fact, TSMV’s EIS does not address climate change at all.

In September 2018, the Town of Canmore developed a detailed terms of reference for the EIS for TSMV. The terms of reference emphasized wildlife and described seven areas of environmental impact, but made no reference to climate change. Although the Town adopted its municipal Climate Action Plan just three months later, in December 2018, the Town did not amend the terms of reference for the TSMV EIS to include climate change.

The policies proposed in the Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek Area Structure Plans (ASPs) are not described in sufficient detail to provide any confidence that the developments will be consistent with the targets outlined in the Town of Canmore’s Climate Action Plan. For example, Canmore’s Climate Action Plan states that by 2030:

  • 80% of new homes are to be built to a net-zero or near net-zero standard or equivalent;
  • All new homes should have an energy label
  • 30% of the energy used by buildings is to come from renewable sources
  • All neighborhoods should support electric vehicle charging

While the Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek ASPs make reference to Canmore’s Climate Action Plan and mention some of the tools available to reduce emissions, the ASPs make no specific commitments to building to net-zero standards, using renewable energy for buildings, energy labeling of new homes, constructing electric vehicle infrastructure, or using other mechanisms to reduce emissions. While TSMV may argue that that these decisions could be made at the later, Development Permit Stage, if there are no clear commitments in the ASPs, it is much less likely that these mechanisms will be required at the Development Permit Stage.

The ASPs do describe a bonus system intended to incentivize renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon sequestration during construction. However, the ASPs do not demonstrate whether this bonus system will lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. They provide no information about whether the bonuses are large enough to encourage significant participation, and what levels of participation are expected (or needed) to achieve meaningful emissions reductions.

Overall, the two ASPs address climate change very briefly and mostly at a high level. TSMV refers heavily to following provincial and federal requirements at the time of building. That is, the ASPs make clear that TSMV will do the minimum required by legislation. The developer makes no commitment to doing any more than that.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]