Vancouver City Council to consider motion on banning natural gas in new homes

May 31 2023, 9:38 pm

Should natural gas be banned from all new residential buildings in the City of Vancouver?

A member motion by Green Party city councillor Adriane Carr is scheduled to be considered by Vancouver City Council today.

There has been a shift over the past decade towards the electrification of new homes for appliances and equipment that previously run on fossil fuels, but Carr’s motion calls for changes to the bylaw to expand the requirement of zero-emission space and water heating to include no gas hook-ups for any purpose. This includes banning the use of gas for cooking and fireplaces.

Vancouver’s policies already ban the use of natural gas for space and hot water in new buildings, but it still allows gas connections for gas stoves and fireplaces.

She also wants to direct City staff to outline potential policies and timelines for renovating existing buildings to reduce their emissions to zero, including “requirements to phase out as quickly as possible the use of gas for cooking and fireplaces.”

“Evidence is also clear that the use of gas fireplaces and gas stoves, which burn methane, not only contribute to global warming, but pose health risks, including increased rates of asthma in children,” reads the motion.

Under the municipal government’s previous Vision Vancouver political leadership, the City was highly aggressive in moving away from gas sources for buildings.

Carr cites data that at least 25% of global warming is driven by methane from human activity, with methane having a substantially exponentially larger warming power of carbon dioxide over the first two decades after it reaches the atmosphere.

Currently, a small, but growing, proportion of the gas piped into buildings by FortisBC is considered renewable.

Last year, FortisBC announced a strategy of sourcing 100% of its gas supply from renewable sources for all new homes built in the province. As well, it said it is on pace to exceed its target of having 15% of its gas supply renewable by 2030 and is aiming to reach 75% by 2050.

Renewable gas sources include capturing and processing the methane that is released from the organic waste in landfills, instead of allowing such gases to emit into the atmosphere. The City of Vancouver and FortisBC have jointly funded an expansion of the renewable gas facilities at the Vancouver landfill in Delta.

The City also uses renewable natural gas from FortisBC for its municipal buildings and vehicles.

“FortisBC agrees that immediate action on climate change is critical. However, if passed, this motion will block access to lower-carbon energy solutions today (like Renewable Natural Gas) and impede achieving climate action goals with future low-carbon energy solutions such as hydrogen,” said FortisBC spokesperson Diana Sorace in an email in response to the motion.

“Without access to the gas distribution system, the City is limiting residents and businesses to only one main system for all its energy needs. If approved, this motion will deny residents energy choice, increases costs, and erode affordability.”

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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