As of the beginning of November, natural gas will be banned in all new buildings in the Town of View Royal.
This move to promote and incentivize electrical and low-carbon solutions comes as the province pushes their Zero Carbon Step Code to try to lower the greenhouse gas emission footprint of the township.
On September 5th, the Town of View Royal council voted unanimously in favour of moving away from heating homes and businesses with gas.
Other municipalities that have implemented similar bylaws which follow the Zero Carbon Step Code are Nanaimo, Victoria, Saanich and Central Saanich.
In addition to the municipalities on the island that have taken a step toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions, many municipalities in the interior and on the lower mainland have also moved toward incentivizing clean energy and banning natural gas heated homes and businesses.
More are expected to join this cause in the near future.
“View Royal Council voted unanimously to shift from natural gas to heat pumps as it demonstrates the commitment of Council to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias.
He says this move aligns View Royal with global efforts to transition to cleaner energy sources and mitigate the evident impacts of fossil fuel use.
“I am actually surprised that we are getting an active push from a Natural Gas Lobby at a time when we are issuing new evacuation orders due to wildfires fueled by climate change,” added Mayor Tobias.
Following the View Royal town council’s unanimous vote, FortisBC released a statement calling them out for making the decision without enough community engagement or consultation.
“FortisBC was disappointed to learn of the decision by View Royal Town Council to eliminate access to the gas system in new homes and commercial buildings,” said Jason Wolfe, Director of Energy Solutions at FortisBC.
“Not only will this decision cut off homes and businesses from access to low-carbon energy options, such as Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) today and hydrogen in the future but it will also reduce affordability during a time when British Columbians are feeling the impacts of increased cost of living,” he added.
It is important to note that this decision will not “cut off” any existing Fortis customers, it will simply not allow new homes and commercial buildings to use LNG or RNG going forward.
While the FortisBC infrastructure still leans mostly on natural gas for the time being, the company is trying to move to newer, cleaner options. Some RNG is utilized within their pipelines, but the lion’s share of the gas burned to heat homes remains fossil fuel-based.
“We need to work together and keep every option available in the fight against climate change,” Wolfe said.
“With its decision, not only has View Royal Town Council decided to abandon renewable and low carbon gases, but it has done so in a way that saw no discussion or engagement with the community, local businesses or energy providers.”
With every municipality that adopts the Zero Carbon Step Code, FortisBC loses any and all future business within those urban areas. This is the driving force behind their pushback and lobbying against the local and provincial levels of government.