British Columbia

B.C. government ending climate-action program for municipalities

The program was created in 2010 after B.C. implemented a carbon tax, and provides all local and regional governments grants equal to the amount of tax they paid.

CARIP gave cities their carbon tax money back, provided they measured their climate action goals

Demonstrators participate in a climate strike in Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday, September 27, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The sudden cancellation of a climate action program that provided municipal governments with millions of dollars every year has local politicians scratching their heads. 

"We're trying to figure out how to navigate this next phase to ensure our work can continue," said Vancouver councillor Michael Wiebe about the demise of the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP), which the B.C. government informed municipalities last week was ending.

The program was created in 2010 after B.C. implemented a carbon tax, and provides all local and regional governments grants equal to the amount of tax they paid. In exchange, cities must disclose how they used the money to further their climate goals, with the majority also reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Last year, approximately $8.4 million was given to municipalities through CARIP, of which around $1.2 million went to the City of Vancouver.

"It really was a catalyst that helped spearhead a lot of our work," said Wiebe.

"And now we don't have that continuous funding to fund a lot of these positions … it makes us reevaluate the whole department." 

In a 2019 report, the province said 147 local governments were measuring their carbon emissions through the program, and highlighted a number of projects being funded through it, from a retrofit rebate program in Campbell River to a 19-unit passive house project in Smithers. 

'It is time to renew' 

Multiple governments have told CBC News they were given no warning of the funding cut, and the Union of B.C. Municipalities will be discussing a response at its executive meeting this week.

The issue came to a head in the B.C. legislature on Monday, with the B.C. Liberals accusing the province of failing to consult. 

"Communities across B.C. have embraced this program, and they've counted on it for its steady annual funding to fight climate change," said Todd Stone, critic for municipal affairs. 

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne said that while CARIP was being discontinued, the province was providing $11 million in funding this year for climate projects in municipalities, and would consult with them on alternatives going forward. 

"Over the last decade, much has changed. It is time to renew, to transition, to work with local governments in ways that suit today, not just a decade ago," she said. 

"We know how important it is to work with our partners, local governments. I'm absolutely committed to doing that, and that's what we're going to continue to do."

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