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Nanaimo outlines plans to tackle climate change

Jan 08 2012

The Regional District of Nanaimo plans to buy more electric vehicles, develop a plan to protect certain forested areas and examine whether compressed natural gas can be harvested from the local landfill.

Those are some of the initiatives outlined in the RDN's climate action revenue incentive report for 2011.

Regional districts must complete such reports in order to recoup money from the province on what they paid in carbon fuel tax last year.

Projects and ideas outlined in the report demonstrate how the RDN will continue working toward carbon-neutral operations in 2012, said Chris Midgley, manager of energy and sustainability.

Some of the new initiatives build on current projects to generate cleaner energy at the Cedar Road landfill and other facilities.

The RDN has already been successfully harvesting biogas at the landfill to produce electricity.

Now, it plans to examine whether the methane from decomposing waste can be captured and refined into compressed natural gas, a more environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline or diesel.

Midgley said it is possible to produce enough gas to power a single vehicle that would operate at the landfill. But he stressed that it is not yet clear if such a project is feasible.

He added that the RDN will also be looking at ways to boost the amount of electricity produced at the landfill this year by using more efficient methods of harvesting the biogas.

The RDN is also looking at ways to prevent deforestation on private lands.

There are many forested areas that are zoned for residential development, where landowners are entitled to harvest the trees.

Midgley said there is an opportunity to reach agreements with the landowners, which might include incentives of some sort, to protect the forests in the longterm.

"I think it could present a good opportunity to bring rural residents and rural landowners to the table in regards to climate action," said Midgley.

Many urban solutions to climate change issues, such as riding a bicycle to the store instead of driving, do not make sense to residents of more sparsely populated areas, he said.

The RDN is also looking at whether geothermal heating might work for some public facilities and whether it makes sense to create more off-grid energy sources, such as solar panels, for parks amenities.

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