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RDN approves geothermal funding

RDN investigate the potential of geothermal energy to heat the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre and Ravensong Aquatic Centre.

A proposal to investigate  the potential of geothermal energy being used to heat the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre and neighbouring Ravensong Aquatic Centre got the go ahead from the Regional District of Nanaimo board this week.

The proposal, contained in a letter from Qualicum Beach planner Luke Sales, was dependent upon the Town of Qualicum Beach being successful in its application for a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund.

Sales noted both facilities are located close to a redundant water main along Jones Street that has been identified as a potential source of ground temperature water for heating using heat pump technology. The water main could be used to circulate water from the nearby water distribution reservoir, through an isolating heat exchanger and back into the water distribution mains.

The feasibility study has been estimated at $30,250. However, the FCM grant, if successful, would pay half of that cost, leaving the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo to pay a maximum of $6,025 each.

“If implemented, the proposed Jones Street District Energy system could offer significant benefits for the Ravensong Aquatic Centre through greenhouse gas reduction and cost savings,” Sales said in his letter.

At Tuesday night’s regular RDN meeting,  chief administrative officer Carol Mason noted the district recently completed a major, $5 million renovation of the aquatic centre and there is no funding specifically earmarked for such a project. However, she suggested that if the board wanted to take part, that any contribution come from the sustainability reserve fund.

“Getting a feasibility study completed would enable us to plan for the future, but we would not be able to do it without additional cost,” Mason said.

In response, Parksville alternate director Chris Burger moved that the board get on board the project by releasing the funds required to get the study completed. This was seconded by Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie.

“We want to ascertain what the payback will look like,” Willie said, noting some of the work done during the Ravensong renovation specifically allowed for a project such as this to be done in the future.

The board approved the move.