Joel Grenz for Parksville Council
Joel Grenz

Fast & Fair Climate Action Candidate Questionnaire

What actions or statements on the public record, group activities, and/or personal actions demonstrate your commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

This is the first time I’ve ever run for public office but I’ve been participating in public policy for a number of years. In fact, I remember as a kid not only paying attention to what was happening in government (unlike my friends) but I was also motivated to protect our environment. I used to go door-to-door selling homemade greeting cards in order to raise funds for “Kids for Saving the Earth”.

As an adult I first volunteered on a campaign because I was inspired by the candidate’s proposals around climate change. While progress has been slow, I still believe that there are policy solutions to climate challenges, both in terms of direct government action, but also by creating an incentive structure that will unlock exciting innovations from the private sector.

We can all do our part to reduce our climate footprint, even if it can sometimes feel like our impact is small. A few years ago my family replaced our already reasonably-efficient SUV with a plugin hybrid minivan. This cut our gas bill and emissions down significantly because we can do most of our driving on electric only mode. Recently we’ve gone fully electric, which the family is excited about. (My kids have been hearing me talking about electric vehicle technology for basically their whole lives.)

People who know me would probably call me an evangelist for clean(er) energy. We have amazing new technology that is getting better every day. Government policy done right can (and really has to) move us into a cleaner economy.

How can local government policies help protect and support vulnerable members of your community from the impacts of climate change?

Job #1 of any government is to protect its citizens from harm. Local government (in partnership with senior levels of government) has a responsibility to ensure the community can withstand increasingly severe weather events. Many residents don’t have air conditioning, for example. Emergency plans need to be updated to provide for cold and hot weather protection, especially for our most vulnerable community members.

Outside of emergencies, local government can encourage community members to take action in their own homes through fire mitigation support, rainwater capture, energy efficiency, and increasing tree canopy.

What specific land use, planning and/or zoning strategies would you support to encourage GHG emission reductions and climate resilience in your community?

It starts with a vision for what the community can look like. A liveable community has housing, transportation, employment, health, and recreation options for every age, stage, and walk of life. It provides opportunities for people to be a part of a community and feel that they are safe and supported, including from severe weather events.

Land use planning and zoning should be calibrated towards this overall vision.

Some specific policies that I would support in order to reduce GHG and protect the community include:

  • Encouraging the highest possible step in the BC Energy Step Code for new construction
  • Supporting a diversity of transportation options by having safe and accessible walking, biking, e-biking, and public transportation options, as well as electric charging infrastructure that keeps pace with growing demand
  • Ensuring that emergency response groups are prepared and equipped to deal with heat domes and other extreme weather events
  • Enhancing the tree canopy to help retain water, moderate ground temperatures, clean the air, and all the other benefits they provide

Are you in favour of opting into the new BC policy allowing municipalities to require low-carbon energy systems (such as a heat pump instead of a gas furnace) in new construction?

I am in favour of new construction adhering to the highest possible step code. Not only does that help reduce GHG but at a time of high inflation, everyone is looking for ways to reduce their day-to-day costs. In BC we are fortunate to have electricity that is cleaner and more affordable than many other jurisdictions, plus pricing is much more stable than other forms of fuel (which can spike suddenly as we’ve all watched recently)

What are your top three spending priorities for the next budget and how will they contribute to emission reductions?

I’ve committed to look at all policy through a lens of sustainability. I mean this in every sense of the word including financial, growth, jobs, and of course, environmental. Sustainability means protecting against and mitigating downside risks, and ensuring that we can enjoy a high standard of living, not just today but into the future.

Spending priorities will be around ensuring that our core services keep pace with community needs. This includes the usual municipal concerns like water, roads, sewers, but also policing, fire, recreation programs and culture. All along the way, I will apply a lens of sustainability so that we can all flourish in Parksville.

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