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Solar panel contractor frustrated with RDN requirements

Businessman wants process reviewed
(PQB News file photo)

A Parksville electrical contractor is critical of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s building permit requirements for rooftop solar systems installations.

Richard Wayte, who manages the Solar Division of Osprey Electric, has encountered stumbling blocks from the RDN he says have impacted his business.

The contractor wrote a letter Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) director Stuart McLean, the RDN’s chair of the Climate Technical Action Committee, to raise his frustrations and concerns. The letter was received by the RDN board at its regular meeting on Sept. 11.

“The solar industry started to really boom in B.C. and specifically Vancouver Island roughly two summers ago when the federally launched Greener Homes Grant took hold,” Wayte stated in his letter. ‘Last summer (June 2022) the RDN killed the advantage the grant provided and put the brakes on enabling clean renewable energy by adding/modifying the building permit requirement for rooftop solar systems, demanding a complete structural review by a professional engineer.”

READ MORE: Regional District of Nanaimo creates guide for solar panel installations

Wayte indicated they had to terminate roughly a dozen projects by homeowners who found the fees associated with the permit process to be excessive.

”The average system in the City of Parksville costs the homeowner roughly $24,000, the same system in the RDN costs roughly $29,000,” said Wayte. “We’d like to see the RDN adopt a permitting structure like that of Vancouver that sets a list of criteria identifying when permitting should or should not be required.”

Wayte wanted to know what kind of consultation and comparison the RDN did with other municipalities, the engineering community and solar industry before setting the permit process in place in 2022 due to concerns about the additional loads solar panel installtions impose on roof framing. He wants the RDN to reconsider the permit process with respect to rooftop solar installations.

McLean made a successful motion to refer the letter to staff and to come up a with possible solutions to be presented to the RDN board.

“The letter raised some valid questions and concerns from the solar development community,” said McLean.

Parksville director Doug O’Brien also informed the RDN board that the City of Parksville also received the same letter from Wayte. The matter has been referred to the city’s planner and building inspection department.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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