The District of Sicamous’ mayor, councillors, staff and guests marked Earth Day by breaking ground for a new community bio-heat facility.
Before the ceremonial shovel broke ground at the April 22 event, district town manager and ceremony MC Evan Parliament broke the ice, providing background on the $1.74 million project and how it was decided it would be built in the industrial park on district-owned property at 510 Thomsen Place.
“We thought about Finlayson Park, we wanted to hook up the schools, we wanted to hook up the rec centre but we just couldn’t get the buy-in from the stakeholders, and so we shifted our focus and said why don’t we hook up the industrial park and try to attract more businesses to the industrial park,” said Parliament.
The planned facility will consist of a biomass boiler heating system, supplied and installed by Fink Machine Inc. of Enderby, and boiler house which will repurpose wood waste into fuel, providing heat to buildings in the industrial park.
For the project, the district received $512,000 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.
An April 22 press release from Natural Resources Canada explains the project is being completed in two phases. Phase 1 includes the design and build of the biomass boiler and the initial connection to the industrial park. For this, the district received $264,281 in federal funding and $220,212 in provincial funding, with the district providing $176,210.
Phase 2 includes the execution of the biomass supply contract, inspection and operator training, and the design and build of the piping network and applicable building retrofits. This is being supported by the grants from Natural Resources Canada and the Fraser Basin Council.
Parliament said a goal of the facility is reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We’re trying to get off fossil fuels, we don’t want to burn propane,” said Parliament. “But it’s also an economic development driver because currently, everyone pays a carbon tax on fossil fuels… Currently it’s around $50 a ton, it’s going to $200 a ton. There’s both the federal carbon tax, the provincial carbon tax.
“This facility is exempt from carbon tax. We’re taking wood waste, with the technology of Fink, and we’re creating heat. So it’s an incentive to bring businesses to this park where we can provide very low cost heating and we grow our utility… Any monies that we generate down the road because it’s a long-term play, they’re going to be reinvested in the community.”
Speaking at the event were Splatsín Kukpi7 (Chief) Doug Thomas, North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold and Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz.
Thomas reflected on Earth Day and how the planet’s resources are used.
“As an indigenous leader, we’re getting engaged more in what they call Indigenous ways of knowing… How I share that knowledge to try to bridge the gap is, you know, take what you need and use all that you take,” said Thomas. “With the limited resources we have on Mother Earth, it’s very important – as the resources diminish, what we have left, we have to really consider how we use everything and use it wisely.”
Arnold focused on how the clean-energy project was made possible through partnerships and working together.
Rysz too reflected on the decision to build the project in the industrial park.
“We basically had the money arranged through grant funding, but we weren’t sure exactly whether we wanted to power up maybe the elementary school, the rec centre, the curling club and so forth,” said Rysz. “And then we came to grips with it and we thought, you know what, we really need to build out our industrial park and what better way… to assist it than putting this bio-energy heat project together here in Sicamous.”
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