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SLRD receives Peak Oil Task Force report

Administrator not yet aware of task force's cost

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The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District received a final report from its Energy Resilience (Peak Oil) Task Force at a monthly board meeting on Monday.

The task force, struck by the regional district in March of 2010 to help its communities deal with a presumed drop in global oil supply, delivered a report with a spate of recommendations in areas such as administration, building, planning and emergency services.

The full cost of the task force, however, remains unclear. The regional district has already said that the Whistler Centre for Sustainability has been paid $10,000 to facilitate task force meetings but the full cost of its work hasn't yet been disclosed.

Regional District Administrator Paul Edgington told Pique on Monday that he'd have to get a staff report before he could account for the costs.

"I'd have to get a staff report on what we'd spent but our costs have been recorded for the most part," he said. "I'd have to get a report from staff on what the costs were to prepare it."

The task force's recommendations have been forwarded to regional district staff, which will look into "low hanging fruit," or measures that can be addressed quickly by the regional district to create some momentum for the report and bring some "early wins."

The task force gathered Sea to Sky residents with expertise in areas such as planning, transportation and construction for input into measures that can be taken to prepare for a future with a lower supply of oil and rising prices.

Those measures were pooled together and presented at four separate open houses in November that took place in Lillooet, Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish. The task force gathered input from 75 members of the public, a self-admittedly low attendance that members attributed to cold and stormy evenings every night an open house was held.

Recommendations by the task force include implementation of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and encouraging dense development in the regional district's communities.

Members also recommended that new residential development be designed with the ability to grow and store food, with provisions for community gardens, greenhouses or green roofs, as well as community kitchens.

The report also carries a recommendation to market the regional district as a "clean energy powerhouse." That recommendation carries a caveat to participate in public comment periods with the aim of limiting development of run-of-river projects.

Run of river development is ironically the biggest example of clean energy innovation occurring in the regional district's boundaries. Run of river projects are present throughout the Sea to Sky region, such as on Fitzsimmons Creek, the Ashlu River in Squamish and Rutherford Creek just outside Pemberton.

The SLRD has likewise taken a hard line in the past on run of river power generation within its boundaries. In 2006 it denied zoning to proponents of the Ashlu River project, a motion that also carried a resolution that no further power projects be considered on water bodies including Poole Creek, the Birkenhead River, Elaho River, Ryan River and Upper Soo River.

Speaking of run of river, the regional board also voted to spend $45,000 on a hydrology/hydrometric assessment of the power producing potential at Ferguson (Sucker) Creek as the regional district looks into establishing a publicly owned run-of-river facility.

The board came to its decision after an in camera session in which they discussed a letter from Sequoia Energy, a renewable energy company based in Winnipeg that has installed wind energy projects in Manitoba and North Dakota, and has a power purchase agreement from BC Hydro to install a run-of-river facility on Jamie Creek near Bralorne.

Sequoia was one of four firms that were given terms of reference for a hydrological assessment, which is necessary before proponents can install such projects. It was the only one of the four that did not respond to the terms of reference, according to a staff report.

The board ultimately opted for a proposal by Sigma Engineering, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Synex International, which also develops hydro projects. Board members went with Sigma because its proposal was $40,000 less than the other proposals.

 

 

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