David Suzuki offers quote praising Vancouver mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester

However, the long-time environmentalist has endorsed another candidate—Ian Campbell

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      Late last week, one of B.C.'s most famous residents—and a recipient of the prestigious Freedom of the City honour—had positive things to say about Vancouver mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvestor.

      "She is eminently qualified to lead the city towards a brighter, fairer, more just future," David Suzuki said in a statement. "She has a track record of working with people of diverse backgrounds on issues of social justice and environment."

      However, Suzuki has endorsed Ian Campbell, who's running for Vision Vancouver.

      The Suzuki quote came on the same day that Sylvester, cofounder of Renewable Cities, announced her climate plan. It called for accelerating the city's transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

      "There will be unavoidable consequences from damage done by existing climate change," Sylvester said in a news release. "We need to ensure that our city is resilient enough to sustain these effects and our residents are able to maintain a healthy standard of living.

      "This can only be achieved if we have a mayor who is willing to use innovative and bold solutions to secure the future of this city."

      She's the first Vancouver mayoral candidate to release a detailed climate plan.

      The SFU professor of public practice's proposals include creating incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles by expanding community charging infrastructure. She wants more on-street charging facilities, as well as "parking benefits" for those who drive these vehicles.

      She has also called for shifting to passive and green buildings and introducing incentives to encourage green retrofits.

      In addition, Sylvester wants more heat pumps installed.

      One of the leaders in this area has been the City of Richmond. It's already heating thousands of homes and business with geothermal energy produced by its Lulu Island Energy Corporation.

      To reduce flood risk, Sylvester is calling for more parks in high-density areas. She's also advocating for increased permeability in all new developments to reduce the surface run-off of water.

      Across Canada, flooding has become one of the costliest consequences of climate change. It can occur because of "atmospheric rivers", which dump huge amounts of rainfall in short periods of time.

      In the book Storm Warning: Water and Climate Security in a Changing World, Alberta hydrology expert Robert William Sandford wrote that these atmospheric rivers can be thousands of kilometres long and 400 to 500 kilometres across.

      According to Sandford, they can "carry the equivalent of 10 times the daily discharge of the St. Lawrence River".

      The west coast of North America is particularly susceptible because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

      Sylvester's platform also calls for all buildings to be designed to address future climate hazards, including heat waves and a one-metre rise in sea level.

      She supports the City of Vancouver's waste-reduction goals and argues that the city's ecological footprint can be reduced by increasing the number of people living on single-family lots. The latter measure was also covered in her housing platform.

      Cities could clash with province over power generation

      If the City of Vancouver, the City of Richmond, and other municipal governments seriously ramp up the generation of renewable electricity, this could put them on a collision course with the provincial government. That's because its largest Crown corporation is B.C. Hydro, which retains a monopoly over distribution of electricity.

      One of the most dramatic developments in the renewable-energy sector has been improvements in electricity storage. These were outlined in Suzuki's last book (coauthored by Ian Hanington), Just Cool It! The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do.

      It cites a variety of systems that are already doing this on smaller scales—something also covered extensively by Greentech Media staff writer Julian Spector. 

      Eventually, these innovations will likely pose a threat to B.C. Hydro's monopoly. That could have a detrimental effect on the provincial Crown utility's revenue picture just as it's completing the $10.7-billion Site C dam in northeastern B.C.

      Critics of the dam, including Richmond councillor Harold Steeves, say there was no need to proceed with this costly megaproject when B.C. is so ideally suited for generation of more affordable renewables, including wind power and geothermal.

      Some in the labour movement, however, lobbied intensively for the Site C dam, winning over Premier John Horgan and his NDP cabinet.

      One of the mayoral candidates in Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart, is expected to resign his seat this week as an NDP MP. He received an endorsement from the Vancouver and District Labour Council.

      While he's been a vociferous critic of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project, Stewart has been silent about the B.C. NDP government's decision to complete the Site C dam.

      Suzuki, on the other hand, has repeatedly condemned this move.

      That's because he knows there are renewable alternatives, including many that can be advanced by local governments. These will be made possible by vastly improved renewable-energy storage capabilities.

      Providing incentives, such as density bonuses, for adding solar panels on residential and commercial developments is just one of many examples. Creating a municipal utility that stores and distributes renewable electricity is another.

      One of the knocks on the Site C dam is that it will produce electricity that will facilitate the growth of the climate-harming liquefied-natural gas and oilsands industries.

      "In Canada, large-scale projects such as Site C in B.C. and Muskrat Falls in Labrador run counter to our commitments to combat climate change and respect Indigenous people's rights," Suzuki wrote on Straight.com earlier this year.

      An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that David Suzuki had endorsed Shauna Sylvester.