The City of Salmon Arm will be pursuing a solar photovoltaic pilot project on a yet-to-be-determined municipally owned building. (File photo)

City to pursue solar pilot project

Funding to come from city’s climate action reserve

The sunny days of summer may have come and gone before a city solar project gets off the ground.

Last week, Salmon Arm council voted to support a motion by Coun. Tim Lavery to have city staff do a report on potential sites, cost estimates and other data for “a grid-tied net metering solar photovoltaic pilot project” on municipal property.

Though supportive of the initiative, to be funded through the city’s climate action reserve, there was some concern with the additional workload the requests in the motion would put on staff and council.

“We have a lot on our plate here right now,” said Lavery, listing the Ross Street underpass projct, the upcoming cannabis open house and the fall municipal election. “I would leave it up to the discretion of staff to come forward with a proposal when it makes sense for their time load, and in my own mind, it’s down the line next fall at the earliest.”

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond, however, referenced plans in the community to pursue a similar project, and said while staff is very busy and there are a lot of priorities, “that these are the types of new ideas that are also important for staff… I feel sure that we can make it fit in the grand scheme of things.”

The climate action reserve currently sits at approximately $144,000. Lavery explained that in the past, funding from the reserve was typically used for “big bang for the buck” projects at the recreation centre and the Shaw Centre, to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from these city-owned facilities. He suggested a third of that $144,000 would be spent on the solar project.

“At this stage, I’m looking for a small, site-specific pilot demo project,” said Lavery. “I would like to see a list of possibilities from staff of city-owned buildings.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn said it was the right use for the climate action reserve and the right message to send.

“It’s not necessarily the best timing, but we might as well get this in place now to potentially move forward,” said Flynn. “But if I’m at this table when a final decision is made, a lot of it is going to depend on payback and cost. It has to make sense – not necessarily completely financial sense because it’s also a message, it’s a kind of changing of how we think of it, it’s a leadership role on that matter…”

Couns. Alan Harrison and Ken Jamieson were absent.

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