Green jobs and cutting carbon pollution in BC's new climate plan

By Montana Burgess

Today the BC Government released its new plan, CleanBC, to tackle the Province’s carbon pollution.

In the Premier’s speech he reminded us of how Grand Forks was devastated by flooding this year and of the impacts of wildfires in our communities. This is the much-needed framework for BC to transition to our low-carbon future.

The plan addresses many of the biggest challenges in our province. It was written with clean energy leaders and non-governmental groups advising. It’s comprehensive, and while more details need to come to see how it will be implemented, it puts BC as the leading province in Canada in the struggle for survival in the wake of the climate crisis.

CleanBC puts a big focus on transiting to zero emissions vehicles to address transportation, along with more investments in public transit. There’s an emphasis on low carbon building standards for new homes and buildings, and money for retrofit programs. It aims to reduce carbon pollution by diverting organic waste from landfills.

The plan invites clean industry to have a home in BC and build BC’s economy and green jobs by training skilled workers. It will direct some carbon tax money for cleaner operations for heavy carbon polluting industries. It also recommits to raise the carbon tax incrementally, even for industry.

The new climate plan intends to get us 75% of the way to BC’s legislated 2030 carbon pollution reduction target. It acknowledges there is a gap and says we need to keep moving on policies in 2019 and not just stop with this plan. We can come together to take more action on the local level to close this gap. We can work within our communities and our towns to get started today to phase out our carbon pollution and transition to 100% renewable energy no later than 2050.

The plan says it will work will local governments to figure out next priorities in the transformation to clean energy. We can support our local governments to seize opportunities and be leaders. If we keep sending strong messages to our cities to be leaders in the transition to 100% renewable energy we can get there by taking big and bold steps right now. Because of you and your community supporting our local governments to commit to 100% renewable energy, and work with the Province on this climate plan, I have hope for BC.


Now Hiring: EcoSociety’s Energy Planning Director

Start Date: December 1, or as soon as possible
Salary: $52,000-$58,000 annually
Job type: full-time, two-year contract, renewable depending on funding
Location: West Kootenays, location is flexible

Since 1994, West Kootenay EcoSociety works to preserve wild places, air and water for future generations; to take action to reduce the crisis of climate change; and to promote sustainable local food systems. If you are passionate, organized, and have a strong background in policy and government relations, we want you to join our team as our Energy Planning Director.

West Kootenay EcoSociety aims to secure commitments, by 2020, from all West Kootenay municipalities and regional districts to reduce community-level GHG emissions and transition to 100% renewable energy in their communities by 2050. The emission reductions and renewable energy goals would include the sectors of transportation, heating and cooling in buildings, waste management, and electricity in all public and private-owned infrastructure.. Already two municipalities, Nelson and Slocan, and the Regional District of the Central Kootenay have made this commitment.

Working with our staff, volunteers, and local governments, the Energy Planning Director will collaborate with West Kootenay local governments committed to 100% renewable energy no later than 2050 to develop a joint regional-municipal pathway to 2050 strategy with implementation milestones, including projects and emissions reductions targets. The pathway to 2050 strategy will include identifying challenges and solutions to overcome barriers, regulations, deregulations, incentives, and provincial-level policy. They will coordinate the formal collaboration process, work with local government representatives from staff and elected leaders to develop the joint strategy, seeking their ideas and inputs individually, in small groups, and organize periodic full local government facilitated development and review strategy sessions. This framework will include trainings and meetings with other city energy planning experts leading the transition, so this region can learn lessons and adapt them to local context. They will coordinate consultants and modelers to provide analysis, insights, workshops and networking for the strategy development.

Beyond 2020, the EcoSociety’s Energy Planning Director will work with municipalities in the region to define and refine strategies, assist in implementing upcoming milestones, monitor and evaluate project and strategy effectiveness, connect staff and councilors with emerging experts and successful technologies, and engage residents and businesses in the region to ensure continued support for fossil-fuel phase out and 100% renewable energy phase-in across communities.

This position involves lots of regional travel and some work on evening and weekends.

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Energy Planning Director will:

  • Work with local governments to formalize a collaboration framework with clear communications, deliverables and accountability measures;
  • Build relationships with experts outside the region to deliver trainings and workshops;
  • Facilitate meetings and relationship building with local governments and key stakeholders;
  • Research and draft policy with local governments within framework agreements;
  • Research funding opportunities for implementation;
  • Work with consultants and modelers to input into strategy and
  • Have working knowledge of the PCP Milestones, and the 100% RE Building Blocks toolkit from 100% Renewables;
  • Work with EcoSociety’s advisors and other NGO partners to advocate for best 100% renewable energy and energy efficiency practices;
  • Host community consultations in collaboration with local governments;
  • Have many in-person conversations with community members on EcoSociety’s initiatives as an EcoSociety ambassador;
  • Track relationships in EcoSociety’s database;
  • Develop and post content on EcoSociety’s website;
  • Participate in organizational fundraising;
  • Run project on budget;
  • And participate in organizational planning and staff activities.

Required Qualifications:

  • Passion for working to fulfill EcoSociety’s mission and the just transition to 100% renewable energy;
  • At least 4 years of experience working with governments and/or utilities, local government relations experience preferred;
  • At least 4 years analyzing, drafting, and/or communicating policy in the areas of energy, infrastructure, transportation, corporate administration, community development, planning, asset management and/or environmental services;
  • Experience working with municipal bylaws, official community plans, and other municipal-level planning and implementation measures;
  • Completion of postsecondary degree;
  • Strong understanding of climate and energy policies and issues;
  • Outstanding facilitator, with demonstrated track record of successful facilitation of key stakeholders;
  • Connected to local community or strong desire to build connections in the community;
  • Outgoing personality, excellent listening skills and drive to connect with people of diverse backgrounds;
  • Team player and problem solver, but must be able to work independently;
  • Experience working in campaign setting;
  • Experience working for non-profits;
  • Experience working with media and external communications;
  • Experience managing budgets successfully;
  • Attention to detail;
  • Expert-intermediate knowledge of: Microsoft Office, Google Drive, email management;
  • Experience using databases and managing data;
  • Ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure;
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends;
  • Valid drivers’ license;
  • And willing to make a 2-year commitment to this position with the EcoSociety

The successful candidate will work 40 hours per week. Location is flexible, the successful candidate can work from home or out of the EcoSociety office in Nelson, BC, but will be expected to spend at least one day each week in the Nelson office. Some evening and weekend work will be required.

To apply: If you meet the requirements and are really excited about this position, submit your cover letter and resume in pdf format to jobs@ecosociety.ca. Please ensure subject line reads “EcoSociety’s Energy Planning Director Application.” Interviews will be done on a rolling basis. We thank all those who apply but only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

EcoSociety is an equal opportunity employer.


Waldorf class raises $250 from triathlon for EcoSociety

We wanted to say a big thank you to the students of the Nelson Waldorf School who participated in a triathlon on September 14 and raised $250 for the West Kootenay EcoSociety.

The money raised was to promote outdoor health and activity and, in keeping with school tradition, 10% of the proceeds went to support the West Kootenay EcoSociety to help protect the outdoors

Thank you students!


Jesse Woodward, former Markets & Events Director at EcoSociety

EcoSociety Markets Director moving on from farmers' markets to City Council

By Jesse Woodward

After 7 amazing years as the Markets and Events Director at the West Kootenay EcoSociety I will be transition out of this position to take on my new role as a Nelson City Councillor. I am currently working closely on transition planning and implementation with EcoSociety staff and the Executive Director and I want everyone to know that the Nelson outdoor markets will continue in 2019 but with a new manager at the helm. EcoSociety will hire the new Markets & Events Director and I will be helping with training and mentoring them into their new role in the beginning of 2019.

My time at EcoSociety has been a true education in community engagement, large scale management and relationship building. I have met such wonderful people, made great friendships and felt the joy of helping my community prosper and thrive. I am most proud of facilitating local farmers, artist, crafts people and musicians to hone their skills and I have loved watching, with each passing year, their talents blossom and develop. We have a super creative community that is full of heart and passion.

It has also been very satisfying to manage and grow the BC Association of Farmers Markets Coupon Program over the last six years. This inspiring initiative helps low-income families and seniors accesses locally grown foods and in turn supports local farmers to generate extra revenue. During the 2018 Nelson market season, $22,000.00 was additionally spent through the coupon program at the markets. That's lots of produce and local food going directly from farmer to family.

After all is said and done I will most miss the joyous weekly interactions, conversations and camaraderie. We live in one of the most beautiful and amazing little cities in Canada and I feel grateful every day to have been and continue to be part of the social fabric of this incredible region of B.C.


Elected: municipal 100% renewable energy champions

By Montana Burgess

I stayed up late on Saturday night watching municipal election results come in. While I paid for it in the morning when my baby woke me up at 5:30am, I was excited and feel hopeful seeing the final results. While the provincial news focused on the Vancouver election, I want to share a few local highlights.

EcoSociety put together a bunch of helpful information for voters see where their candidates stand on climate, conservation and food issues and to get out and vote, as well as, for volunteers to help others be voters.

Volunteers were busy in our office last week making phone calls. We spoke with hundreds of Voters to help them get to the polls. We even had a calling party from the Selkirk campus in Castlegar. It was fun to have volunteers, both young and old, making calls to help your West Kootenay neighbours get out and be voters.

In Nelson, the elected mayor and 5 of the 6 councillors pledged their support to continue to support the transition to 100% renewable energy no later than 2050. This is especially important as Nelson has already passed a motion to support the transition to renewable energy and direct staff to incorporate our 100% renewable energy goal into 2019-2023 strategic planning for the City. And EcoSociety’s own Jesse Woodward will be transitioning out of the EcoSociety in the coming months after seven years as EcoSociety’s Director of the Nelson Farmers’ Markets to serve on council. I’ll miss Jesse, but I’m proud of the work he’s done to make our markets thrive and look forward to seeing his leadership on Nelson’s City Council.

In Rossland, our election survey showed that four of the six councillors are committed to supporting the transition to 100% renewable energy. Rossland’s mayor, Kathy Moore, was acclaimed as no one ran against her. She has been a champion of environmental issues and healthy communities.

At EcoSociety’s all candidates’ forum in Castlegar, candidates showed interest in the 100% renewable energy transition by supporting active transportation, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. One elected councillor invited the audience to sign-on to EcoSociety’s 100% Renewable Kootenays campaign. Five councilors were elected that attended the forum.

In Slocan, renewable energy champion mayor, Jessica Lunn will continue in her role, along with three returning incumbent councillors. Slocan was the first community in the West Kootenays, and maybe the smallest village in the world, to commit to get off fossil fuels and onto 100% renewable energy no later than 2050. Jessica and her council’s leadership show no matter how small, every community’s commitment to phase out fossil fuels and move to clean energy makes a difference.

In New Denver, voter turnout was up by over 17% since the last time New Denver residents voted in a municipal election. Longtime EcoSociety supporter and star volunteer John Fyke is now an elected councillor.

There are many other amazing people elected as mayors, councillors and area directors in the West Kootenays. I'm looking forward to working with all these committed leaders to build sustainable communities and keep our wilderness wild. We can transition to 100% renewable energy, build green jobs and healthy communities if we start now right, here in your community. We can do our part from the Kootenays to make a difference.

And most importantly, thank you for being a Voter. We have lots of work to do but I’m very hopeful there are great elected local governments that have the leadership and vision to make the West Kootenays healthy, safe, and on 100% clean energy.


Over 100 residents at Castlegar all candidates' forum on climate, social justice and healthy communities

By Natasha Edmunds

On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of organizing and attending the all candidates’ forum in Castlegar. The Community Complex was packed with families and neighbours buzzing with excitement. The EcoSociety, in partnership with Citizens Climate Lobby, Kootenay Family place and St. David’s Anglican Church, hosted the forum. 100 people filled the room, all eager to see how their candidates are going to create a healthy future for their families and community.

The candidates present were Deb McIntosh, running for mayor, and councillor candidates Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Nicole Hegert, Tyler Maddocks, Maria McFaddin, Bergen Price, Dan Rye, Janna Sylvest, and Florio Vassilakakis.

The candidates who did not attend the forum were: Gordan Lamont, Cherryl Macleod, Brian Smitheram, running for council, and Lawrence Chernoff and Bruno Tassone, running for mayor.

Each candidate had the chance to speak questions regarding affordable housing, healthy communities and the transition to 100% renewable energy. Candidates all voiced support for the transition to 100% renewable energy. The question was worded as:

Climate change is more urgent than ever. With the recent release of the latest international report from scientists and a 2018 with catastrophic flooding, wildfires and smoke, we are feeling the urgency to reduce our carbon pollution even at the local level. If elected, how will you support the community of Castlegar to transition off of fossil fuels to 100% Renewable Energy?

Candidates gave examples of taking action by encouraging the audience to sign-onto the 100% Renewable Kootenays Initiative, encouraging more active transportation and electric vehicles, improving infrastructure efficiency, and supporting farmers markets. How great is that?!

I was excited to hear that most candidates acknowledged that municipal leadership and community partnership is key to transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, and that we need to begin working together now.

I feel hopeful for the future of Castlegar and the Kootenays, and for Castlegar’s opportunity to join in the 100% Renewable Kootenays movement. Imagine this: 100% Renewable West Kootenays - pre-eminent rural-Canadian model of inclusive and ecologically sustainable living. Sounds great, right? Sounds like our future to me.