In recent weeks I have seen and heard a great deal of misinformation on the Solar Colwood program which I would like to correct.
The program was developed through an open process. The funding proposal was developed with input from a public committee, approved by council at a public meeting, and reported on in the Goldstream Gazette in 2009.
Initially, the funding request was not approved—as reported in the Gazette. Later, in 2010, the City was notified that it was in line for funding, and the City was required (as is a common condition of this type of grant) not to make this public until announced by the federal government.
This happened at a well-attended public event in January 2011, and from then on the process has been very public. The funds are being expended as set out in the approved grant, and major spending decisions go through Council.
The overall program cost is estimated at $12 million over four years. This includes cash and in-kind contributions from partners (including Natural Resources Canada), and the homeowners’ portion of costs (someone installing a solar hot water system pays only about 60 per cent of the actual cost after the grants).
The actual cost to Colwood property taxes is $31,400 over the four years—$5 per household or $1.70 for this year. Over the last year, the total amount of staff time contributed to the project is valued at about $20,000 — far less than is spent on many other city projects.
In return, Colwood homeowners and businesses are eligible to take advantage of significant savings for getting an energy audit, and installing solar hot water and ductless split heat pump systems. We can also connect you to available energy retrofit grants from the provincial and federal governments.
Solar installations at the fire hall will reduce its operating costs, and the program is being recognized and earning awards for its innovative approach. Colwood should be proud of this program.