Kelowna getting creative in ways to reduce GHG emissions

Innovation to go green

Kelowna plans to take an innovative approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

The plan, outlined to city council Monday, would include the use of green infrastructure.

The idea was born out of a high-level investigation funded through the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

Policy and planning manager Danielle Noble-Brandt calls green infrastructure and "important component of sustainable, urban communities."

It's an approach, she says, to manage urban weather impacts, to mimic, restore and maintain natural hydrology.

Benefits are more significant in urban areas where large populations share limited green space," says Noble-Brandt.

"By pairing this conservation and enhancement of natural systems with implementation of green infrastructure technologies, cities can reduce the adverse impacts of development, and improve the well-being of our citizens."

"This isn't new," development planning engineer James Kay told council.

"Kelowna has been doing pilot projects and test projects for years. We are looking to tie it together with a cohesive program, and introduce it in our bylaws so we can use it on future developments."

The project being discussed would involve replacing the conventional curb and gutter system along road right of ways with bioretention bumpouts and bioswales.

He says the system would create "sinks for stormwater," which would be filtered, 'trapped like a sponge," and introduced back into the ground. It would then be evaporated back into the atmosphere.

The cost, says Kay, over an 80-year cost for construction, maintenance and renewal, would be far less than the traditional approach.

At $1.8 million for the green infrastructure compared with about $2.4 million for the tradition curb and gutter system, "the net difference would be substantial."

Kay says the pilot study would involve a downtown neighbourhood that is relatively flat, has a very good soil composition, and the ability to infiltrate without hitting ground water automatically.

Initially, Kay says, the study is focused on public sector lands, right of ways the city controls, owns and maintains.

With zoning and Development Cost Charge bylaws in the process of being updated, Kay says this is the perfect opportunity to include green infrastructure components within those documents.

"Road DCC's fund a combination of road and drainage programs and projects," he says.

"We would like green infrastructure to be a consideration and an opportunity within those funding strategies."

Tax incentives, density bonuses and rebates could also be looked at down the road.

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