State of Climate Change Action in Calgary

Coming out of a rollercoaster of a municipal election where talk about climate was largely nowhere to be found, CCAN is planning to work with other to launch a strong engagement of our new councilors, and all Calgarians, on climate action. To do that though, we need to know where the city is at in terms of climate action.

In 2011, the City worked with the Pembina Institute to implement the Calgary Climate Change Accord, which set emissions targets for the city at a 20% reduction below 2005 levels by 2020 and a 80% reduction by 2050. The 2011 plan can be found here: A good summary of it, including the idea that we need all Calgarians to pitch in to make those reductions happen can be found here: At that time, this is what Calgary’s history of emissions looked like:

emissions grpah

Five years after that plan was made, household emissions in Calgary are still some of the highest in the country: We do have great examples of innovation in this city, like this net-positive solar garage suit: And we have some of the greatest density of transit per person in the city, and it’s powered by 100% wind power: But we have a long way to go.

In February of this year, a plan went to committee to create a new climate resilence plan to coincide with the next four year budget cycle, 2019-2023. The full video and agenda for that committee meeting can be found here: The document brought to city council during that meeting was a plan to make the plan, and it can be found here: One of the most important lines in the document is that “existing actions do not put Calgary in a position to meet its current GHG reduction targets in the near and long term foreseeable future.” The city administration has been building this climate resilience plan for the last year, doing targeted engagement to experts and community leaders. There will be more public engagement on the budget as a whole, which will include this climate resilience plan next year.

In this context, it’s also useful to look at responses we got to our survey from candidates that got elected:

Ward 3

Jyoti GondekJyoti Gondek



Twitter: @JyotiGondek

Facebook: @JyotiGondek

  1. Calgary was chosen by the Rockefeller Foundation to be one of four Canadian cities to join a global network called 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). It’s a program designed to help willing cities to address social, economic, and environmental resilience. We have an incredible team of specialists who are taking our city beyond talking about sustainability. They’re actively creating a resilience plan that forecasts the challenges we may face and methods to address those issues. In addition to the natural disaster recovery efforts that are top of mind for us all after the 2013 flood, 100RC also provides Calgary the opportunity to address our economic crisis and infrastructure issues. Given that Rockefeller is also a primary funder of the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, an initiative designed to look at best practices in public-private partnerships in Canada and the US, Calgary is uniquely positioned to build a resilience strategy that captures the value of business and government innovation.
  2. I would ensure that communities like those in north central Calgary have access to proper public transit solutions, schools and health care facilities that will enable residents to cut down or eliminate vehicular commutes. Enabling our kids to walk to school and generating more jobs in our own communities will go a long way toward building a sustainable and resilient future for Ward 3.
  3. This question is designed to make the respondent look unappreciative of carbon tax benefits if you challenge its rollout. Specific to the Green Line, the residents of north central Calgary took up the challenge to leave their cars at home and take public transit. Our busses are filled to the brim. Additionally, many of the residents in our ward bought their homes because the LRT was promised long ago. Yet, our established communities in north central Calgary were left out of the first stage of the Green Line LRT route and not rewarded for their environmentally responsible behaviour. That demonstrates that intended benefits from a carbon tax are not playing out in real people’s lives. Further, the revenue neutral goals of the carbon tax are not playing out in taxpayers’ wallets. Rebates are based on 2015 tax records. Many Calgarians were laid off after that tax year. The time lag in income reporting is not considered, nor is the reality of unemployed/underemployed taxpayers who are charged full rate as consumers and not receiving a rebate. The time lag argument also applies to vulnerable populations who must pay out more than they earn, and are left waiting months for a rebate. While some Calgarians can wait for these rebates, others can’t. The province and the federal government must do a better job of working with municipalities while creating the policies that we must implement on our streets. Setting policy and then asking municipalities to comply creates major issues that were not considered by policymakers looking at high level goals. A good example is the budget impact of the carbon tax on bus fleets. As far as funding of infrastructure goes, perhaps the provincial and federal governments should look to transforming the way municipalities receive funding through more predictable and sustainable funding models. Local governments waste time and money writing grant applications for projects that have clearly been identified as necessary for residents which is a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. A more sustainable model would, for instance, empower cities to retain a greater percentage of the property taxes we collect on their behalf to designate toward infrastructure and innovation.
  4. Once again, I trust the global expertise that is being tapped by the City of Calgary’s resilience team to generate practical solutions that not only allow us to prevent the impacts of social, economic and environmental stressors, but to also enables us to quickly recover when we’re impacted.

Ward 5

George ChahalGeorge Chahal



Twitter: @ChahalGeorge

Facebook: @ChahalGeorge

  1. From housing to transportation, energy efficiency is key in maintaining prosperity. The City of Calgary has and can continue to take a leading role in ensuring new technology, innovation is supported and incorporated in the planning process. We do need to make sure, that new policy initiatives, do not have the unintended consequences, of making it unaffordable for those that are vulnerable in our society.
  2. I do not have a solution as I am not well versed in this area.
  3. I am not supportive of new taxes unless there is a corresponding reduction in taxes. If the provincial or federal government supports a carbon tax, then these funds should be exclusively directed to environmental initiatives. In addition, working Canadians should be provided with income tax relief. Like a consumption tax, a pollution tax is only viable if Calgarians are given an offset.
  4. Calgary is in a historic drought area, and we need to manage our water resources as well as plan for major climatic events. Accordingly, we need to continue to manage and protect our riparian areas.

Ward 7

Druh_Farrell-Ward7Druh Farrell





  1. Thank you for asking about this important topic. Calgary is well situated to become a leader in renewable energy. The transition to renewables has already begun as many energy companies recognize opportunity. Rather than rely on nostalgia as an economic strategy, Calgary can introduce enabling legislation to assist private industry to grow in the renewables market. Calgary also has adopted a food security policy to enable agribusiness and local growers within our boundaries.
  2. The City of Calgary was an early leader in GHG reductions, with the street light conversion projects, Ride the Wind, and leadership from its power company, Enmax. Unfortunately, with a change in leadership with City Administration, City Council, and Enmax, that commitment has fallen off. The City must play a key role in meeting and exceeding its GHG reduction targets, through the design of communities, providing incentives for efficient buildings, a move to a green fleet including public transit, a wind-driven Green Line LRT, and energy retrofits of municipal infrastructure. Council should direct Enmax to recommit to become an energy leader. Each department at The City should require a GHG reduction plan including targets.
  3. The Provincial Carbon Tax is helping the City retrofit many of its systems as well as fund significant transit investments like the Green Line LRT. If someone has a better way to accomplish City goals, I am interested in hearing it.
  4. The City of Calgary is in the process of hiring a Climate Engineer to help City adapt to severe weather events like floods, storms and drought. Calgary has also joined the 100 Resilient Cities Network, a global network working to prepare cities for a host of crisis events, either acute or chronic

Ward 8

Evan WoolleyEvan Woolley



Twitter: @EvanWoolleyWard8

Facebook: @E.Woolley.Ward8

  1. It is the job of municipal government to facilitate an environment in which local business may succeed. To do so, we must Prioritize infrastructure projects that have the highest economic return on investment, including public transit projects and drive diversification of Calgary’s economy in the key sectors of financial services, logistics, agribusiness, creative industries and the emerging high tech and green energy sectors.
  2.  I am proud of the work that I have done to support GHG reduction targets, especially when it comes to the development of transportation options for Calgarians. As a champion of Calgary Cycle Track network, I am proud to have seen increases in ridership throughout the Beltline and Downtown, meaning that there are fewer cars on the road. As well, both the South West BRT and Green Line projects not only support mobility for those who may not have access to other transportation, but we can expect, once built, they will result in further GHG reductions as commuters chose to leave their cars at home. By continuing to provide Calgarians with these lower-carbon options, we can encourage further GHG reductions.
  3.  I am fully supportive of the provincial Climate Leadership Plan. Not only has the Plan resulted in provincial funding for the Green Line, but I am also excited to see how associated policies will permit the City to further reduce its carbon footprint by generating its solar power to meet the electricity requirements of our facilities. Not only will this result in predictable, lower-cost electricity, but will also provide job opportunities for those who install the technology.
  4.  The City’s climate risk management prior should be the construction of the Springbank Flood Mitigation project. Downtown Calgary is the economic driver of this City, and every effort should be made to protect it in the event of a flood.

Ward 9

Gian-Carlo CarraGian-Carlo Carra (incumbent)



Twitter: @GCCarra

Facebook: @GCCarra

Phone: 403-512-6043

  1. My Great Neighbourhoods platform is a response to the need to amalgamate best-practices in sustainable city-building into a Calgary context. A central consideration for Calgary’s ability to survive and thrive long into the future is the strength, resilience, anti-fragility of our neighbourhoods and the sustainability of the infrastructure systems that network our neighbourhoods at the city-wide and regional scales. Great Neighbourhoods are mixed-use, mixed-income, complete, compact and walkable environments of human habitat that support people of all ages, stages and wages. Networked together with active mobility choices, while being powered by renewables and clean energy, Great Neighbourhoods is a blueprint for an even more economically powerful, culturally vibrant and socially inclusive Calgary that will be environmentally sustainable in much more meaningful way. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made towards this goal over the last seven years and I’m running for re-election to ensure that this historic transformation of Calgary continues to land and land successfully.On the social side of the equation we need to do two things. First, we must continue to seek diversification plays that build on our strengths (such as my unanimously supported Notice of Motion on Hyperloop Technology Development, our ongoing exploration of the prudence of an Olympic bid and our all-hands-on-deck pursuit of the Amazon request for proposals). Secondly, we need to double-down on the core values of our Canadian pluralism by way of our nation-leading pursuit of Reconciliation, our Cultural Plan, our Enough for All poverty reduction strategy and my unanimously supported Notice of Motion on Gender Equity and Diversity of which I am extremely proud.
  2. As one of North America’s most sprawling cities, it will be a long time before Calgary meets GHG reduction targets that really matter, let alone the targets it’s set for itself. Current research suggests that at minimum, 52% of emissions are directly related to how a City is physically laid out. I’m extremely proud of my work over the last seven years ending the sprawl subsidy and re-focusing the City of Calgary’s growth trajectory towards city-shaping investments in transit and our neighbourhoods’ main streets. One of the most significant conceptual leaps our City Council has made over the last seven years is the tacit acceptance of the reality that if the next million Calgarians drive as much as the current million, we’re in big trouble. While driven primarily by fiscal and mobility concerns, this has flipped the script on the “war on cars” and created a broad coalition of councillors committed to a much reduced GHG footprint for our City.
  3. Anyone serious about the reality of climate change understands that taxing carbon is the gold standard for altering behaviour. The serious debate is focused on the question of revenue neutral vs revenue generation (with revenues directed towards GHG-reducing infrastructures/technologies/incentives) and as a major proponent of the GreenLine, I’m very pleased that our provincial government has taken the latter approach.
  4. Most immediately, upstream/watershed-scaled flood and drought mitigation is essential to Calgary’s success long into the future and I’m a proponent of both the Springbank diversion reservoir project (which is funded and underway) and the need for a flood and drought mitigation dam upstream on the Bow (which has been conceptualized but needs to be designed and funded over the next four years). These major pieces of infrastructure in addition to localized best practices along our river banks and in our flood fringe areas will mitigate Calgary’s largest climate change threat. Secondarily, anticipated increases in hail and tornado events requires an even higher standard of building code which becomes more financially feasible in the higher density, as opposed to lower density environments, that Great Neighbourhoods accommodate.In a broader sense, one of the core reasons I’m an urbanist is that Great Neighbourhoods offer our most convenient solution to the inconvenient truth of climate change. However, in the New Urbanist professional circles from which I draw my expertise, the conversation is quickly evolving from mitigation to adaptation. In either event, I strongly believe that the most important element of true resilience is a love for one’s community, and Great Neighbourhoods offer us a path towards building on Calgarians’ already significant love for our city.

Ward 12

Shane KeatingShane Keating (incumbent)


Twitter: @CouncillorKeats

Facebook: @CouncillorKeating

  1. We need to evaluate the kinds of investments that the next generation of industry will be looking for when they consider places to open up for business. This means building a city that is attractive for companies but also for the people who live there. One of the best ways we can make to build a diverse and viable economy is by investing in public transit. Public transit offers a transportation model for all types of Calgarians while unlocking economies of scale to improve the efficiency of our transportation networks.
  2. I would have us further ahead on the Green Line LRT than we currently are. Stage 1 alone will will reduce our annual GHG emissions by 30,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Once the project is fully completed those emissions will be reduced by 55,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2048 growing to 67,000 tonnes by 2076.
  3. I’m not supportive of a punitive tax that would have a negative impact on Albertans without delivering real and tangible benefits to the environment. The province needs to find ways to provide incentives for greener carbon footprints. Under the current framework, the carbon tax is punitive to our Calgary Transit fleet. The provision of public transit is a massive environmental win for municipalities and there must be exemptions to keep those services affordable. From a capital investment standpoint an appropriate carbon tax structure would need to clearly show how revenues are being reinvested into green initiatives that contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions.
  4. We need to make investments in upstream flood and drought mitigation projects. We also need to encourage the provincial government to restore and protect our natural riparian habitats throughout the East Slopes that act as natural aquifers to protect downstream communities during times of flood and drought.

Ward 13

Diane Colley-UrquhartDiane Colley-Urquhart (incumbent)



Twitter: @BigRedYYC

Facebook: @DianeCU

  1. •  Develop a Climate Change Adaptation Plan across City of Calgary business units and externally.
    •  Inform, educate  and enable citizens and external partners to consider climate change adaptation as a step to building a climate-resilient City.
  • Develop a plan to address all city-owned brownfield and contaminated sites – including fuel sites and creosote (West Village).
  • Prevent or minimize the environmental impacts of construction activities.
    • Develop and implement an Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Waste Diversion Strategy (unacceptable that our waste is being trucked to Coronation near my home town).
  1. •  We must do better.  We lag significantly.  The strategic Climate “Program” was put together in 2011 and not much has changed since then as there were no well-defined objectives, deliverables and outcome measures.
    •  We need a neighborhood action plan approach that would incent greener lifestyles.
    • Explore options for competitions between communities; continue with our land use approach of live, work play to reduce car dependency, higher density growth and green building, micro-generation, turbines, solar power through the Innovation Fund, issue grants for pilot projects that achieve low carbon outcomes to incent businesses (large and small) through licensing  to demonstrate actions they are taking and register on the Climate Change Dashboard.
    • Incent more community gardens, roof top gardens, vertical urban markets.
    • Support community associations and cooperatives as a mechanism to expand neighborhood initiatives.
    •  Be more aggressive in replacing our urban canopy that was 50% destroyed by Snowtembero.
    •  As a Shareholder of ENMAX and the largest asset of the citizens of Calgary, we can maximize our capabilities and efficiencies around solar, electricity (line loss), gas, water and wastewater, metering etc.
    •  Incent through property tax mechanisms credits for reductions in water usage, electricity etc.
    •   Maximize our potential around hyperloop, cool technology and geothermal applications
    •  Be more aggressive on policies regarding the City of Calgary Fleet and leasing decisions.
    •  Heighten expectations around Calgary Transit policies and practices.
    •  Incorporate SOPs around tendering contracts to providers and what their Climate Change Plans are including awarding contracts on major capital projects.
    •  Develop and Awards and Recognitions  Program that is comprised or various categories.
    •  Research the merits of PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy).
  2. We need a redo of the City of Calgary’s Climate Program and develop a nimble Climate Action Plan and actively involve the community and leading experts in its development – to tactically chart a path to reduce carbon emissions.  The primary goals and objectives need to be reflective of local climate action efforts. A Dashboard Platform needs to be hosted by the City where citizens and communities register their activities and be acknowledged.  Climate change is not just about warming, it is about changing weather patterns that make up climate (temperature, wind, rainfall and storms etc) and the affects those changes create such as heat waves, drought, wildfires, flooding and landslides etc.  The following pillars are critical to our City of Calgary Climate Action Plan with specific objectives and deliverables:
  3. As Chair of the Emergency Management Committee for three years following the flood, the role of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) has evolved and needs to continue to be adequately resources. That includes:
    •  Upgrading, replacing and expanding specialized equipment and training to enhance first responders safety and capabilities.
    •   We must enhance Business Continuity Coordination not only within the City of Calgary but with the external sector to minimize our vulnerability and impact on essential services.
    •  We need to better enhance our ability as a City to identify hazards and conduct risk assessments  to the City and our citizens.
    •  We need to urgently develop community-based risk education and readiness through programming to inform citizens and engage them on what the risks are within their own community.
    •  We need  to facilitate and coordinate and communicate a coordinated response and recovery to mass casualty events and threats.
    •  I initially advanced the City joining the 100 World Resilient Cities and we were accepted as Administration took this forward.
State of Climate Change Action in Calgary

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