To help inform voters for the municipal election, Wildsight asked the local candidates: Kimberley’s SunMine will soon be producing renewable energy. To move further towards sustainability, what can the City of Kimberley do to conserve energy?
Candidates for Mayor
“KISS! Keep it simple stupid.” Solar farms, sun mines, and wind mills are great. But, a time honoured and time proven energy conservation method is having every citizen shut off the lights, lower the thermostat, recycle and reuse. City councils right across Canada should get some guts and challenge taxpayers “rights” to produce five bags of garbage a week from a single household. A simple strict program of recycling and composting can save money for every citizen in Kimberley. Any idiot benefits financially and morally just from participating in a conservation program. (I am living proof of that statement.) Have we forgotten our history? Kimberley kids scoured alleys and back woods for metal cans and rubber tires in the 1940s and presented them to Mr. Blaine at the Orpheum Theatre to gain free admission to the Saturday matinees. Garbage could be a future asset rather than a taxpayer’s liability.
Conserving energy without spending money we don’t have right now starts by changing behaviours. We can enforce no-idling zones and implement idling policies for city vehicles, and we can encourage residents to reduce water consumption and electricity usage. But to become really effective at energy conservation, we need a benchmark for city facilities that tells us how much energy we are consuming today. Then we can consider new technologies and energy-efficient approaches to our operations. We can also foster more programs such as the EK Energy Diet, which provides rebates to evaluate home energy usage and implement home improvement retrofits; and the provincial Wood Stove Exchange Program, which helps people replace their older, inefficient wood stoves for low-emission appliances that include clean-burning wood stoves. Through programs such as these our community conserves energy, money is saved and we have better air quality.
Energy conservation should be at the forefront of our planning process. The Integrated Community Sustainability Plan provides for an excellent roadmap so to speak with respect to measures that can be taken by the community as whole to conserve energy. Some of those measures/steps/strategies have been undertaken but there are many more that require a commitment on the part of the City and the community to implement. The City does have a number of programs in place that encourage energy conservation but I feel we need to do a better job of communicating what those programs are and how people can access them. One program in place is the Energy Efficient Building Incentive Program, a program that encourages energy efficient new construction and renovations to existing buildings in Kimberley. Another program is the East Kootenay Energy Diet, partnership program with the RDEK.
Candidates for Council
When the Sun Mine becomes operational, the City of Kimberley will lead the province as the community most committed to renewable energy. In addition to expanding the output of the Sun Mine itself, the City of Kimberley should continue its existing program of energy conservation. The City is lighting some pathway/park space with solar powered lighting – this should be expanded where practical. Within the Operations vehicle fleet, older less fuel efficient vehicles are being replaced with more efficient ones. When it comes time to replace the Pollution Control Centre the City should choose to build and operate the most energy efficient one possible. Perhaps it could be powered with solar electricity generated from an expanded Sun Mine (anything produced over and above our current contract obligations).
Energy conservation is something that all areas could use improvement. One idea I like that has been brought up is garbage service. The concept of neighborhood bins would reduce the trucks touring all over, reduce fuel consumption and exhaust out put into the air. It makes sense.
The City’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan makes commitments to energy and resource conservation which help shape our corporate programs and projects. Staff are continually looking for opportunities to save energy (and money) when changes are made to buildings and equipment. This could be as simple as replacing T12 fluorescent lights with more efficient T8’s, installing variable speed drives on air handling units or (during the recent facade renovation of City Hall) installing new more energy conserving windows. It means replacing old vehicles with more fuel efficient new ones, and joining the Kootenay Car Share and using a shared vehicle for some of our staff travel rather than buying a new one. We can also help conserve energy in the broader community by supporting the East Kootenay Energy Diet and by establishing a Climate Action Reserve Fund which we will use to stimulate energy conservation by residents and businesses.
I feel the city has been very conscious of saving energy. They have done energy audits on all their facilities and made many changes as per the recommendations in the reports. They have made available rebates to home owners who want to install solar hot water tanks in their homes. I would also look at installing LED lights where ever possible. The city also installed solar lights on the peak to platzl trail.
The concerns over our city’s water use and aged infrastructure also brings opportunities for conservation, both of water and energy. Infrastructure replacements will improve efficiency; simply by not needing to treat and pump as much water, less electricity will be used. Improved reliability of the water system after upgrades are completed, will lead to less breakages, saving fuel and other resources used during repairs. There are many more savings to be made through improved infrastructure, and in partnership with our residents and community groups, to seek more conservation measures throughout our city.
The City of Kimberley could use solar lighting in all their street lights; promote, educate and lead by example. Update our community that it doesn’t take much to make a difference; all fridges are turn lower, old beer, energy drinking, fridge’s are dumped, energy efficient windows and doors, cooling system, dishwashers and other appliances, plant shading trees, water heater jackets, or even promoting hot water on command units used in Europe, create home owner solar panel programs, take transit, bikes and vehicles that get good mileage, compost, recycle and rethink our ways. With our new adventure in Solar Mining, let’s take one step more; let’s form the City of Kimberley and our community to be the leaders in energy conservation. One month at a time, each month could promote an energy efficient step. At the end of the 12 months, positive energy efficient habits could be formed and repeated.
Kimberleys sunmine might soon be producing energy from solar panels, but the project does not help Kimberley (per say) become more sustainable, as the electricity being produced goes into the BC Hydro Grid and does not come directly to the community of Kimberley. Therefore I do not agree with the statement To move further towards sustainability…. Actually I feel the Sunmine project takes us away from becoming more sustainable. Taxpayers of Kimberley put 2 million tax dollars into the Sunmine. I wonder what other community sustainability benefits could have resulted from using the same 2 million for energy retrofits of our older city owned buildings and/or renewal of other city-owned infrastructure (such as water mains) in order to avoid wasting our natural resources (such as water) and conserving energy, thus saving tax dollars and making our community more sustainable?
Sandra Roberts did not respond to this question.