Saanich police Chief Mike Chadwick helps plant a young Garry oak tree behind municipal hall as part of an initiative through Saanich's carbon offset program.

Saanich police Chief Mike Chadwick helps plant a young Garry oak tree behind municipal hall as part of an initiative through Saanich's carbon offset program.

Police aim to offset commuting emissions

Saanich police officers now have another way to give back to their community.

Saanich police officers now have another way to give back to their community.

Because typical 12-hour shifts don’t always allow the use of public transportation, walking or riding a bike to work, officers are supporting the municipality’s carbon offset program to reduce their commute’s environmental impact.

“We’ve recognized that we have an obligation to the future, to try to lessen that impact, and this is one way of doing it,” Saanich police Chief Mike Chadwick said Friday, after helping plant five new Garry oak trees behind municipal hall. “This has been unanimously endorsed by all levels of the department, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the contributions are going to add up to.”

Using Saanich’s free, online carbon calculator (www.saanich.ca/carboncalculator) officers, as well as Saanich residents and municipal staff, can go online to determine how much carbon they put out in the environment travelling to and from work in their vehicle. A dollar figure is calculated that users can then choose to donate back to their community.

Money collected from the carbon offset program is used to fund two community projects: expanding Saanich’s urban forest and climate action curriculum in Saanich schools.

“This is a great alternative for residents to be able to put the money back into the community and see climate action happen,” said Mark Boysen, Saanich’s sustainability co-ordinator.

Boysen hopes the police department’s initiative will help spur other employees and residents to use the carbon calculator and support Saanich projects.

While the online carbon calculator isn’t new to Saanich, a newly updated version now includes more detailed calculations, and allows users to select which project they want to fund.

In addition to calculating your vehicle’s carbon output, the tool can calculate the impact of your use of electricity, natural gas, propane, heating oil and from airplane travel.

Chadwick says while there’s been endorsement of the project by his officers, it’ll be up to them to choose to participate.

“I think every member will search their own conscience as to whether or not this is something they want to contribute to, and I’m pretty confident that they will,” he said.

kslavin@saanichnews.com