Letter to Utilities Kingston, cc: City Council re: Natural Gas & Electrical Infrastructure

Climate Change Crisis Emergency Environmental

Text of letter for possible adaptation for letters to other organizations:

David Fell President & CEO, Utilities Kingston
cc: Mayor and Councilors, City of Kingston
Dear David:
It was a pleasure to meet you and Peter Huigenbos over Zoom in March as we discussed the possibilities for Utilities Kingston to install and operate Municipal Solar projects.
My letter today follows up on 350 Kingston’s input into the Climate Leadership Plan, discussion following our (Gavin Hutchison and my) delegations to council on December 21st and further discussions with city staff.
We would like to see action on three crucial climate change issues:
1. Instituting a ban on new building fossil fuel hookups.
2. Consistent with item 1, not expanding the natural gas piping infrastructure for building heat projects (per motion to council 2021-12-21).
3. Expanding the electrical infrastructure to support the electrification of heating, transport, and other sectors as we decarbonize.
I appreciate that some actions would require direction from city council, but the city’s declaration of a climate emergency provides general guidance, and you are in a position to advise on the best path to achieve these three objectives on a “climate emergency” basis.
Across the world, many jurisdictions are banning new fossil fuel heating hookups. This was highlighted in a January 30th CBC article: “Why oil and gas heating bans for new homes are a growing trend”. If Canada is to meet it’s pledge of a 40 to 45% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, and the City of Kingston is to meet its goal of net zero by 2040, this action will be essential. It makes no sense in a climate emergency to “bake in” new sources of emission.
During the March 31st planning committee public input meeting discussing the proposed former Davis Tannery property development, Jay Patry stated that several of his projects had used geo-exchange heat pumps for building heat, but it was not being considered for this project due to the lack of sufficient electrical capacity. Given the timeline for approvals and remediation of this site, actual construction is years in the future. If we were truly acting in “climate emergency mode”, we would make expansion of electrical infrastructure a top priority.
I urge you to make follow up to the City’s 2019 declaration of a climate emergency a top priority and addressing the three points addressed in this letter would represent substantive progress.

Mark Sibley