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Solar Colwood review shows no major issues

Solar Colwood is generally on track in terms of cost to the city according to a review by the strategic and financial planning committee.

“There were a number of recommendations but no serious issues in financial management were identified in this review,” committee member George Mess told council Dec. 3.

The report addresses multiple aspects of the program, including budget approval, project organization and the recording of accounting. The report also makes a number of recommendations, mainly related to making sure the project continues to come in on budget to avoid costs to the city.

The program costs must stay below the 33 per cent contribution by Natural Resources Canada or the city will be required to make up the difference.

“At the present time there aren’t any serious issues, financially, with Solar Colwood,” committee chair Coun. Rob Martin said. “But it’s something we have to stay on top of and it became really obvious that trying to predict the future use of this program is very, very hard and can put us, if we’re not on top of it, at a huge liability.”

Colwood acting chief administrative officer Michael Baxter provided a report in response to the report’s recommendations. Baxter agreed with some of the recommendations and informed the committee that some suggested changes have already been implemented, while explaining some are unfeasible.

A few members of the public spoke at the meeting. Resident Diane Reed expressed discomfort at the amount of money involved in the project considering to date only about 70 residents have had home retrofits of either solar hot water systems or ductless heat pump systems, or both, for a total of 84 retrofits.

The initial target for the program was 1,000.

“I was alarmed by the information in the report,” said Reed. “If I had received this information from industry I would recommend that the program end immediately.”

Martin said those who take issue with so much money being spent on a program like this should lodge their complaints with the federal government, as that’s where the vast majority of taxpayers’ money is coming from.

“If I’m being completely selfish, from Colwood’s standpoint it’s actually great because we’re bringing in a lot of dollars into this community,” Martin said. “If there’s an issue anywhere, it should be directed to the federal government.”

The report, recommendations and management’s response are all available online in the agenda for the Dec. 3 council meeting.

Mess and Belfry have since resigned from the committee.

 

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