The District of Squamish is hoping to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral in 2018 and give local businesses a boost by implementing its own community carbon offset program.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said the program is based on the structure of a global carbon marketplace where carbon producers can buy credits from carbon-reducing initiatives to reduce their overall carbon footprint.

In Squamish, she said, the marketplace will feature local carbon-reducing initiatives.

"The idea is we infuse that money directly into that local economy and help inspire green and carbon reducing initiatives locally," she said.

"That allows us to be really accountable to where taxpayers dollars is going to when we can see those businesses growing here locally."

Her district is working with the non-profit, Cowichan Energy Alternatives Group, to develop the program and identify local carbon reducing initiatives.

Although the program is voluntary, Heintzman said her district would buy around 800 tons of offsets to make its own footprint carbon neutral.

"We're hoping that businesses — if a business wants to become carbon neutral — they can do it through a local carbon marketplace and if an individual or family wants to do it, they can see their money going into local projects, benefiting the local community, hiring people locally."

Role of development

One challenge to the district's goal in becoming carbon neutral is the increasing development in the area — like a possible upcoming LNG woodfibre plant in Howe Sound — and the increasing appeal of Squamish as a commuter destination for Vancouverites.

Heintzmen said she is going to focus on that issue by reducing the commuter footprint.

"Obviously the more people you have the more potential you have for a carbon footprint," she said.  "[We need] to get the jobs that meet the talents of the people that live here in the community ... That's going to reduce our footprint by magnitudes."

With files from The Early Edition


To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Squamish to pioneer local carbon offset program