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Powell River city council approves contribution to help lower greenhouse gas emissions

City supports energy study to reduce GHG in civic buildings
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RETROFIT INITIATIVE: Powell River Recreation Complex, with six other civic buildings, is slated for a grant application that will provide an engineering review to help upgrade the public buildings, reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

City of Powell River council has approved an expenditure of $17,000 as part of an $85,000 study to help the city lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in civic buildings.

Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman, at the July 15 city council meeting, said she wanted to commend city staff for embracing the city’s attempt to reduce emissions.

“We have a lot of civic buildings that have had quite high emissions,” said Leishman. “In the past few years our staff have really jumped on board with applying for grant money and trying to tackle reducing our emissions as a corporation. We have done such phenomenal work that we won an award at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference. We have a lot of other buildings that do need attention going forward so I support this grant application.”

Council unanimously supported funding its share of the grant application.

At the July 13 committee of the whole meeting, sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova said the grant opportunity came up from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities through the new community buildings retrofit initiative. She said it will help municipalities to upgrade public buildings, and reduce operating costs and emissions.

The first step is to complete a GHG reduction pathway feasibility study, which is an engineering review of buildings where opportunities have been identified, and come up with projects to take advantage of grants that come up.

“We propose to apply for this study funding that covers 80 per cent of the cost of that engineering review for the seven highest emitting buildings,” said Lukyanova.

These include Powell River Recreation Complex, the public works building, city hall, Dwight Hall, the RCMP building, the municipal bus garage and Powell River Public Library.

“Just to highlight how important it is to have this kind of study in place, I want to remind you [councillors] about the thermal energy study for the recreation complex in April 2020, which enabled us to do the boiler upgrades,” added Lukyanova. “Instead of having the same boiler we had, we have a more energy efficient one, which received $250,000 from Powell River Community Forest and $150,000 from FortisBC for that project. It was over 90 per cent grant funded as a result and there is less than a four-year payback. It’s a higher efficiency boiler.”

She said another opportunity identified is heat recovery and there are three grant applications in progress now. The city is waiting to hear back about the project. It’s helpful to have “shovel-ready” projects in hand that can be used to apply for grants, she added.

According to Lukyanova’s report to the committee, the grant will allow the city to complete a detailed engineering review of these buildings and outline a pathway for equipment retrofits and upgrades that consider remaining lifespan of existing equipment, and reduce emissions and operating costs.

With $17,000 for the study and $20,000 for the city’s heat pump rebates, there is approximately $53,000 left in the climate action reserve fund.