Letter: Climate Action Energy funds not needed

North Cowichan will invest $ 204,375 for energy efficiencies at new Crofton Fire Hall

Climate Action Energy funds not needed

Re: North Cowichan will invest $ 204,375 for energy efficiencies at new Crofton Fire Hall. Funding to come from CAEP reserve funds, article in Citizen/Courier.

CAEP – Climate Action Energy Plan.

What it didn’t say is that CAEP Reserve Fund is 0.5 per cent carbon tax charged to North Cowichan taxpayers since 2013 at approximately $160,000 – $175,000 per year.

CAEP’s goal is to reduce emissions in the Municipality of North Cowichan.

How is that possible with a highway driving through North Cowichan that taxpayers have no control over?

Funding for climate action and corporate energy projects is facilitated by a 0.5 per cent tax which is put into a reserve fund annually (CAEP Reserve Fund) through property taxes.

CAEP Reserve Fund has over $500,000 and growing annually with no end date for this unusual municipal tax.

CAEP Reserve Fund 2019: $494,610, 2020: $542,814, 2021: $603,355.

Twenty per cent grants to groups or individuals to reduce emissions as handouts.

Eighty per cent to MNC staff to supposedly reduce emissions; by whose standards?

Municipal project costs should be included in capital and operations budgets not as an added tax with already too high taxes.

Is the purpose to waste more tax dollars on climate activism at North Cowichan rather than tending to the business and priorities of municipal services: water, sewer, roads, garbage, public safety, fire, police, parks and recreation?

The previous council in 2019 approved hiring a senior environmental specialist for $112,000 per year, additionally July 2022 hired a climate change specialist for $109,000 per year. MNC environmental department with four employees plus engineering staff and council time spent on meetings, reports and costly consultants. One million dollars of CAEP tax approximately over nine years spent on a list of very questionable investments. Council in 2022 approved grant for up to $82,000 to CGC (Cowichan Green Community) to cover development cost charges, engineering and consultants for a food hub to be built on leased Beverly Street property owned by North Cowichan taxpayers.

2018 council granted CGC $15,000 from CAEP tax for an agricultural equipment library to rent out (increase emissions) keeping the income.

CAEP tax is distributed in the form of grants and to top up provincial tax supported projects, i.e. Clean BC. Your neighbour may be reducing emissions in their home with what is virtually another level of government carbon tax.

Is this realistic for the taxpayers or do they even know?

The scope of this tax has taken on an extreme role with the 2019-2022 council.

The Environmental Advisory Committee of 11 members created a redirection of spending, hiring and the OCP to include an environmental, climate lens to override what is to be expected of a local municipal government’s typical jurisdiction.

Joyce Behnsen

North Cowichan