City of Parksville urged to consider solar energy

Chamber of commerce brings the issue to council, which then ordered a report from staff

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce is asking the city to spend money on the development of solar power.

Chamber executive director Kim Burden presented council with some ideas around community power at a budget meeting last week, including some details on where the money for such a project would come.

“The city currently receives $300,000 from the various utility companies, including $110,000.00 from BC Hydro in lieu of taxes,” Burden said in his presentation, which he later provided to The NEWS in text form. “We would like to see a portion of this, preferably half, earmarked for the development of renewable energy and we would like to see a city staff member have responsibility for the development of community power included in their job description.”

Burden explained why he thought this issue was in the purview of the chamber.

“We want the city to be able to provide a maximum amount of service to residents and businesses without heavy taxation,” said Burden. “A strong business community relies on the addition of new businesses providing both new and competing services and products and in order to attract those businesses we need local government to provide the best services possible while keeping fees and taxes at a competitive rate.”

“We are a progressive community in an idyllic setting and in order to remain progressive in the minds of those wishing to come and establish businesses and families here we must continue to move forward.”

City council has asked staff to provide a report on the subject. Later last week, Mayor Marc Lefebvre said he believes solar power could be used in city-owned buildings like the fire hall, as a back-up to start in case of power outages.

“It’s something I’ve been considering for a long time and it’s going to prove worthwhile,” said the mayor. “Right now staff tell me it’s not cost beneficial but I think that’s going to change in the not-too-distant future.”

Lefebvre pointed to the construction of the $8 billion Site C dam — and how it will be funded — as an indicator hydro rates will continue to rise.

“Don’t tell me hydro is going to stay cheap,” said the mayor. “Someone is going to have to pay for that (Site C) — You and I are going to have to pay for that.”