As council received more than 40 submissions at Tuesday’s (March 5) meeting in opposition to the village’s Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for a community power project on Pemberton Creek, Coun. Ted Craddock asked for an itinerary of the public consultation process that will follow.
Chief administrative officer Daniel Sailland explained that all submissions deemed acceptable by village staff will be presented to residents shortly after the RFEI deadline passes at the end of the month.
“Once we receive them, we’re taking the broad concepts and re-presenting them in an open house forum to get comments back from the general community in terms of strengths, weaknesses or concerns that may exist,” he said. “That allows us to then go back to the proponents that have submitted and seek clarity.
“We feel that helps us strengthen the overall dialogue and also gives us a good idea of the appetite within the community for the various concepts that are there.”
Although no concepts for the project will be revealed until after the RFEI closing date, and despite insistence from lawmakers that the RFEI does not bind the village into developing on Pemberton Creek, many residents have argued that not enough public consultation has been sought. The project has been on council’s work plan since 2007, but the backlash only began late in 2012 when the RFEI was developed.
Criteria that will be used to score the submissions — and determine if any proposals are adequate — are expected to appear before council for approval at its March 19 meeting.
It appears those criteria may weed some proposals out — Mayor Jordan Sturdy said Tuesday that the village had received “one or two” submissions from overseas “that are not likely to see the light of day.”
Sturdy reiterated that a power project isn’t necessarily the end result of the RFEI process.
“One of the opportunities may be to eliminate public access and say that it’s a conservation area,” he said. “We’ve got a range of continuum — from full-on conservation to full-on, maximum development. I would suspect it will end up somewhere in between.
“We have no preconceived outcomes here.”
Village energy usage, costs down
The Village of Pemberton as a corporation has been successful in reducing energy consumption and costs over the past few years, though more suggestions to continue reducing its carbon footprint will be coming before council.
Council saw the results of an energy and emissions study on Tuesday that was commissioned in 2011 to help the village meet its goals as a signatory to the B.C. Climate Action Charter.
According to the report, compiled by Urban Systems, the total energy consumption from village-owned infrastructure, buildings, vehicles and other assets decreased by more than 15 per cent between 2009 and 2011. And despite energy costs rising at a rate well above inflation during that period, total energy costs to the village were slightly lower in 2011 compared to two years prior.
The report indicated that the village’s energy costs and emissions are “minimal, when compared to the situation faced by other communities.”
Much of the cost savings have been realized in the village’s water and sewer system, which accounts for 44 per cent of the village’s energy cost, said the report, and at the wastewater treatment plant in particular. The facility’s consumption was down 25 per cent over the two-year period, resulting in annual savings of $8,400.
Sailland said plant operator Martin Kluftinger is responsible for those reductions, having found ways to run the plant more efficiently since he took over the position in 2009.
“I think we should recognize the work Martin has done (finding) significant cost savings,” said Sturdy. “Clearly there were deficiencies that he understood, identified and acted on.”
However, the report also found a number of places where the village can be doing better, highlighting the public works department building, which accounts for 20 per cent of all energy costs. But rather than investing in extensive retrofits of the facility, Sailland said it would likely be staff’s recommendation to put a new building in the five-year financial plan.
Sailland said staff would review the study and come back with a report detailing ways the village can continue to reduce its carbon footprint and energy costs.