The B.C. Liberals announced Saturday they will repeal the City of Vancouver’s plans to ban natural gas in new buildings days ahead of the policy taking effect.
Andrew Wilkinson, candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena, says the city’s ban would increase costs to consumers, businesses and residents because it would increase building costs and create a reliance on electricity, which is more expensive.
The city’s ban, which goes into effect Monday, applies to new construction and is part of the city’s larger plan to rely exclusively on renewable energy by 2050.
— Bailey Nicholson (@bnicholsonCKNW) April 29, 2017
Wilkinson says if the Liberals form government after the May 9 election, they’ll change the Vancouver Charter that allows the city to dictate its own building codes in order to repeal the ban.
He says the requirements were too stringent for restaurant owners who rely on natural gas for cooking because its more effective and affordable.
Wilkinson also says the city’s caveat that allows for renewable natural gas wasn’t sufficient because there simply isn’t enough of the resource to support the restaurant sector.
But speaking to Global News, Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie says Wilkinson doesn’t have all the facts.
“There’s a want that we move towards renewable, natural gas but not a ban on natural gas.”
Louie says on Monday, May 1, a different measure will take affect to meet the city’s green standards.
“An upgrade in terms of the energy efficiencies of our buildings, a change in our process that we go about assessing whether buildings are in fact meeting our green standards, but it’s not a ban… We’re making some proposals on how to move to renewable energies rather than reliance to lean on fossil fuels as we are right now, and making sure that there is a pathway forward. If the Liberals have better ideas, we’d like to hear them rather than just posing obstacles to what we’re trying to do in Vancouver.”
Tough new rules?
However, Fortis BC believes the new restrictions may as well be a ban on natural gas.
Director of Energy Solutions Jason Wolfe says using electricity rather than natural gas will cost the average family $1500 per year.
“The new rezoning requirements that go in on Monday require GHG emmission reductions at 50 to 70 per cent, that means you won’t get any heating from natural gas in buildings any longer. And then builders and developers may choose just to not put any other natural gas appliances in like cooking.”
He adds Fortis supports the city’s intent to reduce emissions, but doesn’t support the lack of choice for customers.
With files from Michelle Morton