Squamish is almost a Canadian Solar City.
The District of Squamish is working on or has accomplished many of the 10 criteria needed to become a Canadian solar and alternative energy city.
An update on the district’s progress on the non-profit organization, Canadian Solar Cities Project’s criteria, was given to council at the committee of the whole meeting on May 5.
“We are well on our way to checking off the solar city’s list of criteria,” said Mayor Patricia Heintzman.
The one initiative on which the district has not made headway is No. 9: “Community renewable energy efficiency technologies and green living demonstrations are developed, supported and encouraged by the municipality to demonstrate these concepts to the public.”
While district workers are stretched for time and resources to fulfill this criterion, the community could help, said Heintzman.
“We can start thinking about how we collaborate with the community to deliver on the one thing we are not delivering on now,” she said. “There may be public-private partnerships.”
Matt Blackman, who encouraged the district to work towards the designation and is part of Squamish’s Alternative Energy Group, said he was thrilled with the motivation of council.
“I never cease to be amazed,” said Blackman. “With that being said, there is still a lot to be done, but it gives me hope that it will get done.”
He said that there are people who are demonstrating alternative energies in Squamish, but they are doing it privately, which doesn’t help the municipality qualify for the moniker.
Blackman’s group will make recommendations to council, he said.
“We’ve volunteered to look at the 10 key criteria and look at what has been done, and look at what could be done from here,” he said, adding he would like to get a representative from the Canadian Solar Cities Project involved.
Blackman said ideally, when the district builds a new municipal hall, he would like to see it become an example of various alternative energy technologies such as geothermal, wind and solar.
“So new homeowners and businesses that are thinking of becoming utilities will then have a showcase to go and see. We just need to have someone step up, and hopefully, it will be the municipality,” he said.
Becoming a solar city gives Squamish more than just bragging rights, Blackman said. “This whole Woodfibre LNG program and debate has brought energy to the forefront in Squamish,” he said. “This is a potential transition point for Squamish to move from old world, based on a fossil fuel economy – which is what Woodfibre would be – to incorporating all kinds of new alternative kinds of energies.”
At the Mayor’s Breakfast at 8 a.m. this Friday at Brennan Park, the topic will be renewable energy, and Heintzman attended the Renewable Cities conference in Vancouver last week. The initiative to form a Neighbourhood Energy Utility is in the budget this year.
Anyone with ideas or technologies to share is encouraged to go to the Squamish Alternative Energy Group on Facebook.