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B.C. municipalities still waiting for climate action fund details

$76 million over 3 years to reduce greenhouse gases
B.C. Lands and Water Minister Josie Osborne and Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen are sworn in to their new cabinet roles by Lt. Gov. Janet Austin, Government House, Feb. 25, 2022. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. municipal leaders were assured Monday that they are getting a reactivated “green communities” committee and a promise that a long-awaited local government climate action fund will be “flexible and reliable,” but specifics of the program are not yet available.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson was flanked by Environment Minister George Heyman and Nathan Cullen, the new municipal affairs minister appointed last week, for an announcement that did little more than confirm the 2022 budget commitment of $76 million over three years for a grant fund.

“This program was developed with input from the Climate Solutions Council, including representatives from rural and urban regions of the province and the UBCM, and we are grateful for their help,” Cullen said at a news conference at the legislature Feb. 28. “My colleague Mr. Heyman and I look forward to sharing more details about the program in coming weeks, but this is just one more example of the actions we’re taking to support local governments as they face climate change objectives of tomorrow.”

Heyman said the province’s CleanBC program, which he called among the most progressive climate plans in North America, has led to heat pumps being installed at all 52 homes in the remote Gitga’at community of Hartley Bay on the north coast.

Robinson’s Feb. 22 budget included removal of provincial sales tax on heat pumps, already heavily subsidized by the province and B.C. Hydro, and removal of sales tax on used electric vehicles.

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