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Earth Day ceremony to kick off construction of Sicamous bio-heating project

$1.74 million facility will provide heat to several buildings at industrial park
The District of Sicamous will be breaking ground on Earth Day, April 22, for its community bio-heat project, a $1.74 million facility consisting of a biomass boiler heating system and boiler house, which will repurpose wood waste into fuel, providing heat to several buildings in the industrial park. (File photo)

The District of Sicamous has chosen Earth Day to break ground for a new wood-waste fueled heating facility.

The April 22 ceremony commemorating the start of the community bio-heat project will begin at 11 a.m. at 510 Thomsen Place in the Sicamous Industrial Park. According to the district, the planned facility will aid in the production of clean energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the community.

In a media release, the district explained the $1.74 million facility will consist of a biomass boiler heating system and boiler house which will repurpose wood waste into fuel, providing heat to several buildings in the industrial park (Thomsen Place and Thomsen Court).

For the project, the district is receiving $512,000 in funding through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, $875,000 from the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Bioheat Program through Natural Resources Canada, and $175,000 through the Fraser Basin Council and the Community Energy Leadership Program. The district is contributing $182,000 to complete the project.

In the spring of 2017, the district commissioned Urban Systems to investigate the feasibility of bringing a community renewable energy source to the district. In April of 2018, the district began seeking federal funding and support for the project.

In March 2019, district council authorized an agreement for the purchase of a property legally described as Lot B Plan EPP89682 Section 1 Township 22 Range 8 Meridian Land District 25, for the purchase price of $125,000. The lot is identified by BC Assessment as 510 Thomsen Place.

In March 2021, the B.C. government announced the federal government would be contributing “more than $264,000” to the project, and the province more than $220,000. The District of Sicamous would be providing more than $176,000.

In November 2021, district council approved a motion to award a contract to supply and install the biomass heating system to Fink Machine Inc., with a phase-one contract price of $870,821 plus applicable taxes. A staff report to council showed the district had received $484,494 in grant funding from CleanBC, and $175,000 from the Fraser Basin Council for phase one of the project. The district anticipated using the $875,000 grant from Natural Resources Canada and $3,740 of taxation revenue for phase two.

At the Nov. 10, 2021 meeting of council, Coun. Bob Evans raised concern over the cost of getting pipe into the ground to move the heat outside the industrial park, and voted against the motion.

“Anything else industrial that goes in there could have access to it… In Enderby, the biomass plant, it usually does help businesses and it makes it more affordable so I do get that,” said Evans. “But… it was a good chunk of taxpayer dollars.”

Coun. Jeff Mallmes said the heating system would create between 1.5 and 2.5 million kilowatt hours of energy per year depending on demand. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour, he said the district could see a maximum of $150,000 to $250,000 in gross revenue per year.
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