Leading by Example

Saanich’s pledge to take action on sustainability and climate change was first embedded into the Official Community Plan in 2008 and many actions have been taken since that time. To make progress on sustainability as a community, the Municipality recognizes that leading by example is imperative.

The 2020 Climate Plan sets new targets for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from the District’s municipal operations:

  • Reduce GHG emissions 50% from 2007 levels by 2025
  • Achieve net-zero emissions by 2040
  • Protect and prepare municipal assets in a changing climate

Here are some examples of how Saanich looks to lead by example on climate change and deliver these targets.

Saanich Climate Plan wins Excellence in Policy Planning Award

The 2020 Climate Plan: 100% Renewable and Resilient Saanich was named a Silver winner for the Excellence in Policy Planning – City and Urban Areas by the Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC). The Institute annually recognizes the professional work and individual accomplishments of members across British Columbia and Yukon through its awards and recognition program. Thank you to all those who contributed to the development of the plan, and congratulations to the other 2020 PIBC winners

Carbon Fund

In 2007, Saanich developed the innovative Carbon Fund, a first in North America, providing a consistent funding stream for low-carbon municipal projects. Here’s how it works: each department in the municipality contributes to the fund based on their carbon footprint. The Fund is then used to implement new greenhouse gas reducing initiatives within Saanich operations. Most of the projects listed below were completed through support from the Carbon Fund.

Zero Emission Vehicles

Since 2010, the District of Saanich has been an active adopter of electric vehicles (EVs) and has continued to add EVs to replace the light duty vehicles. Given BC Hydro electricity is currently 97% renewable, EVs are classed as zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), with minimal GHG emissions in addition to being quieter and requiring less maintenance.

Saanich now operates 19 EVs in its general fleet (excluding fire and police) and uses a pooled fleet to maximize the use of these zero-emission vehicles. With the addition of two more EVs in 2021, the entire passenger car fleet at Saanich will be fully electric.

The Saanich Police Department was the first Police Department in Canada to incorporate an EV into its fleet and will have an additional four EVs added in 2021. The Saanich Fire Department has converted all of its light duty vehicles to EVs and is now exploring the use of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) for their medium duty trucks.

The Municipality has also incorporated public EV charging stations at prominent Saanich owned facilities for public use. In 2015, Saanich was also the first municipality to bring a DC fast charging station to the Greater Victoria Region, one of the most used stations in the Province.

Municipal Building Energy Retrofits

Saanich implements multiple building energy retrofit projects each year to increase energy efficiency and move to renewable energy. This not only reduces our GHG emissions, but reduces costs and often improves user comfort. Some key recent projects include:

  • Replacement of old, inefficient gas boilers at Gordon Head Recreation Centre with a renewable-energy heat pump and efficient backup gas boilers for building space and pool heating. This reduced the building GHG emissions by 38% in 2018 compared to the previous year with larger savings expected in 2021 following a full building retro-commissioning that is underway.
  • The Municipal Hall’s yearly carbon emissions were 33% smaller in 2018 than 2017 thanks to recent building efficiency upgrades. The new heating control systems will also result in greater comfort for occupants.
  • In 2019 Saanich purchased a REALice® System for the Green rink at Pearkes Arena following success with a similar installation in the Gold rink in 2016. This is a water treatment device for ice arenas to remove micro-air bubbles from water that is used when laying and resurfacing the ice. It makes it possible to flood the ice with unheated water to create hard & resilient ice in comparison to the previous approach of using heated water. Reclaimed heat is already used at the Pearkes facility for showers and as supplementary hot water for the arena’s resurfacing machines. The installation of this second REALice® System further reduced the Arena’s energy requirement and is anticipated to save 900GJ of energy use per year.
  • In 2016, Saanich began a 5-year program to convert 6,000 of their 9,000 street lights from High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps to energy efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). The program will result in a 51% reduction in overall electricity use and an annual savings of $214,000 and 26 tCO2e once fully complete. The LED fixtures also have a longer life span than HPS fixtures reducing the need for maintenance.

Greener Garbage Collection

Greener Garbage Collection

In 2014, Saanich launched the Greener Garbage Collection initiative to divert organics from the landfill and reduce community GHGs. Following the first full year of implementation, this added service has reduced landfilled waste by more than 50%.

In 2016 over 9,000 tonnes of organics were diverted from landfill through the curbside collection program, with an additional 7,600 tonnes of garden waste from the Municipal Yard. This equates to approximately 7,500 tonnes of GHG emissions saved a year. 

Learn more about the Greener Garbage Collection Program.

Preparing for a Changing Climate

The District is committed to protecting and preparing its assets in a changing climate and helping the community cope with severe events by:

  • Using resilience as a guiding principle for all decision making
  • Upgrading corporate facilities and infrastructure to maintain routine service levels in light of climate change
  • Upgrading Saanich buildings to improve cooling capacity during heat waves and air filtration in wildfire smoke events
  • Ensuring that District facilities are climate-ready and that the District can deliver important services during severe weather events, such as heatwaves, severe storms, and poor air quality events due to forest fires

For more information on corporate climate projects and to see how we are progressing against our corporate greenhouse gas emission targets, view our progress reports.