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Energy savings missed when retrofits punished: Victoria mayor

Governments need to stop punishing property owners who make their old buildings more energy efficient, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said yesterday.

Fortin was speaking on a panel at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Conference yesterday in Victoria along with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Municipalities have done lots to encourage developers of new buildings to adopt green standards, said Fortin, who highlighted the success of the Dockside Green development in his city. But more needs to be done to improve older buildings, he said.

"How many new buildings do you get? If you're lucky it's significant, but it may be one a year," he said. "But yet you've got these 50 or 100 or 1,000 old ones that are energy inefficient."

The city might say it supports retrofitting them to make them more energy efficient, but it financially punishes them, he said. "Your reward for doing those energy upgrades is your property values go up and we tax you more. What is the incentive for people to do that?"

Governments can think long term and the province needs to work with municipalities to make retrofits more financially appealing to building owners, he said.

Seattle's McGinn said that his city is requiring energy audits for commercial buildings and that many owners will see the wisdom of improving energy efficiency once they see the audit results.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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