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Congratulations to Squamish on being named Canada’s 5th Solar City

On Saturday June 25, Squamish became Canada’s 5th solar city. Initiated by the Canadian Solar Cities Project, Squamish joins four other British Columbia communities in meeting the ten criteria required for this designation. These ten criteria are:

  1. The municipality has a climate change plan with short-term and long-term targets and time-frames in place
  2. The municipality has a community energy plan in place
  3. The municipality has an energy plan in place for its own facilities
  4. The municipality has adopted targets for a proportion of total community energy demand to be met by renewable energy
  5. The municipality has established policies and incentives for solar electricity and solar thermal utilization for residential homeowners
  6. The municipality has established policies and incentives for solar electricity and solar thermal utilization for commercial ratepayers
  7. The municipality has a communication plan in place to build awareness of its renewable energy projects and policies
  8. The municipality has established policies for land use planning to promote and encourage energy efficiency
  9. Community renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies and green living demonstration projects are developed, supported and encouraged by the city to demonstrate these concepts to the public
  10. The municipality has policies in place to encourage district energy projects within its jurisdiction

IMG_20160625_111944Canada’s first solar city was Dawson Creek which received its designation in June 2012. It was followed by Colwood (in March 2013), the T’Sou-ke Nation (in September 2013) and North Vancouver (in March 2014).

Squamish resident Matt Blackmon spearheaded the initial drive to Solar City status which was supported by numerous local residents, environmental groups and Squamish Council. The award was also made possible by the generous support of local realtor Andrew Laurie, seen to the right shaking hands with Bob Haugen, Executive Director of the Canadian Solar Cities project, and Matt Blackmon at the microphone on his left.

IMG_20160625_113914Accepting the award — a stunningly crafted bronze sundial — on behalf of the District of Squamish was Mayor Patricia Heintzman. Councillor Karen Elliott was also in attendance as were numerous other local area residents and civic leaders.

I had the distinct honour of speaking at the event and took the opportunity to congratulate District of Squamish for their leadership.

A lot of lot exciting things are going on in Squamish these days. Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company that has developed innovative technology to create liquid fuels from atmospheric carbon dioxide, recently set up shop in Squamish. This potentially revolutionary technology also has the ability to capture and sequester human produced carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. I had the pleasure of touring the Squamish facility back in April of this year.IMG_20160401_115608

In addition, UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre, the District of Squamish, the Squamish Nation, Newport Beach Developments Limited Partnership, and Carbon Engineering recently signed an agreement to explore ways in which a centre for clean energy research and education could be established on the waterfront brownfield industrial site located at the head of Howe Sound. This exciting opportunity would mean the creation of a satellite campus of UBC in Squamish focused exclusively on Cleantech education, research, and development. It’s precisely this type of investment in innovation that I have been advocating for since the time I got elected as it is critical in terms of positioning British Columbia at the forefront of tomorrow’s economy.

Ironically, as Squamish takes bold steps to lead British Columbia through innovation towards a 21st century economy, it is having to deal with the unwanted Woodfibre LNG proposal that would be located a stone throw away from the town. The fact that the Squamish Council voted against this project; the fact that West Vancouver and Lion’s Bay Councils voted against it;  the fact that it goes against their district’s branding as Hardwired for Adventure; the fact that it undermines Squamish’s efforts to become a leader in cleantech seems utterly lost on the BC Liberals. For in their desperate and reckless quest to land an LNG plant to fulfill their irresponsible election promises all that matters is “getting to yes”. But at some point, you need to ask what the question is.

Let’s get to yes on Squamish becoming a centre for Cleantech education, research and development while saying no to doubling down on chasing the losing proposition of LNG.

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