The City of Campbell River is requesting the B.C government establish a new route of funding for local climate projects, with the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) now in its last year.
Each year, CARIP pays eligible municipalities signed to the B.C. Climate Action Charter an amount equal to their operational corporate carbon tax payments. These funds are then used to fund local climate action projects.
The city has benefited from this program since 2007 and now receives about $38,000 per year from it. This funding is added to the Carbon Neutral Reserve Fund, to which about $50,000 per year is also contributed in lieu of carbon offsets.
This reserve has been used by the city for a range of energy and sustainability projects, including solar hot water installations, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy incentives and rebates and efficiency assessments, among others.
These funds are also used to leverage other external funding and develop partnerships for climate mitigation efforts. Between 2010 and 2021, the city has received over $1.5 million from external funding for climate mitigation and adaptation projects.
However, in May 2021, the province announced this is the last year for CARIP. Besides losing funding, municipalities will also no longer be required to report their emissions to the province nor have access to the program’s standardized reporting tool.
In response to the program’s cancellation, city council unanimously passed a motion on June 28 to write provincial representatives, including Premier John Horgan, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, as well as the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), requesting a new, non-application based program be established.
“We get rebates where the money can fund climate action projects, and I think cutting it out does us a harm, along with every other community,” said Coun. Charlie Cornfield, in the meeting. “I think it’s important that the program be replaced, so that we have a steady stream of finances, enabling projects to proceed.”
The letter will also request consultation with UBCM and/or local governments on fund parameters and support for the development of standardized greenhouse gas reporting for municipalities.
Through CARIP, the province provided $8.4 million to local governments in 2020. Notably, the provincial government has created a new $11 million fund in the 2022 budget for climate projects in municipalities, but details have not yet been released.