New development is adding to Sooke’s already burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions. Pictured above are developments on Melrick Place and Winfield Road. (Stephen Hindrichs photo)

New development is adding to Sooke’s already burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions. Pictured above are developments on Melrick Place and Winfield Road. (Stephen Hindrichs photo)

OPINION – Bert’s Dilemma: Growth, housing and the climate emergency

New official community plan not addressing climate problem, says writer

Alan Dolan | Contributed

I have a friend, let’s call him Bert, who wants to buy a house in Sooke. He’s spent a lot of time here and he likes the small-town feel. He’s a cautious person and he’s quite concerned about what climate change will mean for his children’s future. He was encouraged when he heard that Sooke had declared a climate emergency and aspires to be carbon neutral by 2030.

When Bert saw the plans for his 1,600-square-foot house, he started to wonder — how much will his home and family contribute to increasing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change in Sooke and for that matter on the entire planet?

RELATED: Sooke eyes new official community plan

After a bit of digging through CRD reports, Bert learned that he approximate what his house could contribute to climate change.

The manufacture of materials for his standard frame house and the construction of the building, site preparation and waste disposal would be a one-time, up-front emission of 5.9 tonnes of carbon.

Day-to-day living – driving, heating, cooking, etc. — would contribute 8.25 tonnes of carbon a year forever.

In order to clear the land of all its vegetation and trees, there would be a loss of 11.43 tonnes a year of carbon that used to be taken up by vegetation and soils on the site. The land for Bert’s house that used to be a carbon “sink” would become a carbon emitter. Bert’s house would contribute 19.68 tonnes of carbon a year forever.

Bert talked to planners at Sooke and learned there are about 1,100 dwellings approved for construction and many more to come. All those houses would result in a massive increase in greenhouse gases: 1,100 x 19.68 = 21,648 tonnes of carbon a year.

A recent CRD report states that Sooke’s present total emissions are 46,574 tonnes of carbon a year. These 1,100 new houses on the books will mean a 46 per cent increase in Sooke’s greenhouse gases. This is going in the wrong direction. Sooke is trying to reduce its emissions dramatically before 2030, not increase them!

Bert realized that one of the negative spinoffs of growing so rapidly was not only the increase in carbon emissions contributing to climate change, the loss of our carbon sink, and our resilience to climate change but also the loss of natural assets that affect our quality of life — farm and garden land, recreational green spaces, wildlife corridors, natural drainage and biodiversity. Residents of Sooke, like Bert, have said that they value these natural assets.

Bert looked at some of the proposed growth scenarios in the new official community plan and found that they were not addressing the climate problem. He came to understand that if Sooke continues to grow, we will not meet our climate targets and we will lose all that we love about this community — our small seaside town, surrounded by forests and farms.

What should Bert do?


Alan Dolan is a Transition Sooke board member.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This stretch of Highway 14 on Parkinson Hill near Port Renfrew is undergoing reconstruction following a road washout in 2018. (Ministry of Transportation photo)
22-hour Highway 14 road closure planned for Wednesday

Closure needed to install a temporary bridge structure near Port Renfrew

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
Extinction Rebellion activists march from Vancouver to Victoria this weekend

The four-day trek ends at the B.C. legislature Monday, protest province’s environmental policy

At Tuesday’s Sooke council meeting, RCMP submitted a record showing the types of calls and incidents that were investigated within the district, which included a comparison from February 2021 to February 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Crime and calls to Sooke RCMP on the decline in February compared to 2020

Sooke RCMP share February investigation statistics

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-province workers to staff Langford vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

A rider crosses a “skinny” on the newly opened trail known as 90s Jank, built within the Hartland system by volunteers with the South Island Mountain Bike Society. (Youtube/MTB Matt)
Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

90s Jank trail a product of licence agreement between CRD and mountain bike society

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read