Sue Foley, aka the Ice Queen, entertains crowds at the 2019 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival. Hydro proposed for the fall fairgrounds where it’s held would do away with the diesel generators. (File photo)

Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival hopes to say goodbye to diesel generators

City agrees to chip in to help expand hydro at the fall fairgrounds

If the momentum continues, festival-goers might have seen the last of the diesel generators at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival.

In response to an ongoing push from the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society to expand a hydro source at the fall fairgrounds, the city has agreed to provide $64,000 towards the project.

Deputy Mayor Debbie Cannon made a motion that $64,000 be taken out of the city’s climate action reserve fund, which would leave $97,000 at the end of 2020. The city is applying for an additional $62,000, which, when received in July, would leave the fund in essentially the same place.

“It would service the stages, the cooling units in the beer gardens…,” Cannon said of hydro. “This would be a huge project that would really make Roots & Blues that much greener.”

Cannon pointed out that after the 2019 Roots & Blues Festival, the only complaints she saw on social media and in a few emails had to do with the sound of generators and the smell of diesel burning.

The folk music society had divided the project into three phases, with phase 1 completed in June last year. It included bringing a 600-volt system to the south fairground property.

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Phase 2 would mean providing a low profile transformer (LPT) to one service kiosk followed by phase 3 with a low profile transformer for four service kiosks.

Phases 2 and 3 are estimated to cost $125,000, with contributions coming from the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association which leases the fairgrounds, the folk music society, and possibly the Shuswap Community Foundation and SIDET, the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust.

Coun. Kevin Flynn said if the partners are stepping forward with contributions, “these are 50 cent dollars, half from the city and half from the partners, so I think this is a good use of the climate action fund.”

He said he wouldn’t be in support of the city putting forward more if SIDIT doesn’t come up with $25,000 and asked what Roots & Blues would do if the funds don’t come through.

David Gonella, executive director of the festival, said the work would not proceed if there wasn’t enough funding.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond called the project expensive but necessary.

She said she doesn’t like the idea of a half-finished project on city property.

“We welcome tens of thousands of people to the property. I’m personally uncomfortable with the project not being complete,” she said, not simply because of complaints or carbon dioxide, but because when you start a project, you should finish it.

The motion to contribute $64,000 carried unanimously, with Mayor Alan Harrison and Coun. Tim Lavery absent.

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