Courtenay council nibbles on ‘food for thought’ from green energy advocate

The City of Courtenay could supply green energy that pays for itself, teaches students and attracts energy-efficient developers.

The City of Courtenay could supply green energy that pays for itself, teaches students and attracts energy-efficient developers.

Farallon Consultants Limited’s Stephen Salter presented Courtenay council with what Coun. Jon Ambler called “food for thought” earlier this week when he suggested the City look into building a district energy system that would be “in the black” on the City’s books.

“My work is to find opportunities, not just for green energy, but for green energy systems that pay for themselves,” Salter told council, adding he sees potential in the area at Ryan and Lerwick roads.

“It involves the economics of having one energy plant sell energy as hot water through pipes to various buildings, the idea being that it’s cheaper to build one large plant than to have each building own its own plant.”

Salter noted the energy loads of the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre, North Island Collge (NIC) and Queneesh Elementary School, combined with their close proximity, caught his eye. Then, when the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) announced the chosen location for the new Comox Valley Hospital he became “very interested.”

The system could consist of one large boiler which uses urban wood waste to create energy for all four buildings via pipes underground. It would have the potential for expansion to other buildings in the future, and would likely attract green-minded developers, according to Salter.

He suggested each building would have lower energy bills than with traditional models, and the space usually devoted as a boiler room could be used for something else instead, such as office space, or in the hospital’s case, more space for healthcare.

He’s spoken to NIC about the idea, and told council the college was interested in teaching trades related to sustainable energy.

The college was “open to the idea of actually hosting the energy centre on their property and providing the energy through the district energy system,” said Salter. “They could potentially own the building that houses the boilers and use it to teach trades how to run boilers.”

He also said VIHA is keenly interested in the system, but VIHA stressed if the City chooses to go ahead, it would need to act quickly.

“By January they (VIHA) would need an indication of whether or not this district energy system is likely to be built,” he said, adding the project is in the Request for Qualifications stage and is expected to move into the Request for Proposals stage later this year, so by the New Year interested companies will likely be working on more detailed design plans.

“There’s a great opportunity but the timing is tight,” said Salter.

Salter added the plant would cost roughly $5 million to build, would create two full-time jobs, and would result in a reduction of 2,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per year, or would be the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road.

He noted Courtenay could apply for federal funding for the project and funding for similar projects has typically been forthcoming. The amount of non-tax revenue generated for the City — after all costs including debt repayment — would be between $100,000 and $300,000 per year depending on the availability of grants and how much the City would spend on the wood waste, if it had to buy it.

However, he added the City has enough municipal wood waste going to the landfill each year to fuel the system.

Salter said there are about 500 district energy systems in Canada already, with many more in Europe, and the systems have typically expanded over time. He noted a six- or seven-year-old system in Revelstoke BC has paid its way and is currently being expanded.

Mayor Larry Jangula pointed out two commercial developments are in the works across Lerwick Road; one in the Home Depot parking lot and one slightly north on Lerwick Road. He said he is very much in favour of looking at waste-to-energy ideas.

Salter suggested a feasibility study should be done by November if the City is interested.

City staff are expected to present council with a report on the matter at Monday’s meeting.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

The CF Snowbirds in action. (Erin Haluschak photo)
Homecoming for B.C.-raised Snowbirds pilot training in the province

Capt. Arpit Mahajan flies Snowbird 2 in his first year as a solo pilot with the team

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is accepting homeownership applications for its next build. Photo supplied
Habitat for Humanity prepares for next build in Courtenay

A forever home for some, a step forward for others

The development permit application for the back of a property at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave has now been approved by council. Record file photo
Cumberland approves secondary home permit second time around

Mayor Leslie Baird said the applicant’s additional drawings provided more info for her

This house at 1514 Trumpeter Cres. is currently for sale, with a disclaimer that the property was used for a cannabis grow operation in the past. Photo by Record staff
Drug trafficking at Courtenay residence nets over $250K forfeiture

Ruling comes from a search warrant executed in 2016 on Trumpeter Crescent home

The inaugural board meeting for the last UBID board was held online May 6. Screenshot, Zoom meeting
Union Bay board says no to ‘No’ side committee addition

Community is preparing to move its services to regional district for July

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)

Most Read