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Town of Canmore increases budgets for organic diversion and solar power projects

Canmore council has approved a change in scope and budget for two upcoming capital projects – adding sprinklers to the expanded area at the waste transfer station to support organic diversion for $450,000 and installing additional solar panels on Elevation Place.
Canmore council has approved a change in scope and budget for two upcoming capital projects – adding sprinklers to the expanded area at the waste transfer station to support organic diversion for $450,000 and installing additional solar panels on Elevation Place at a cost of $164,000. RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – Following up on its promise to do more to tackle climate change, the Town of Canmore has increased the scope and budgets of two projects meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the municipality. 

Brittany Driedger, the Town’s facilities project manager, asked that council approve an increase of $450,000 to add a sprinkler system to the municipality's waste management facility to be financed by debenture.

“[Administration recommends] that council approve a scope and budget change to capital project 7102, Waste Management Centre, to include a municipal water service and sprinkler system for the facility with a budget increase of $450,000 to be financed by debenture, resulting in a total revised budget of $3,365,000 for the project,” Driedger said.

The planned expansion project, initially approved in the 2019 budget, included four parts: two additional transfer bays to stockpile and transfer food waste, an office expansion to accommodate increased staff, which includes the addition of a larger washroom and more locker space, some minor drainage improvements and an expansion to the existing solar photovoltaic system.

Driedger said the additions amount to a total increase in size of 335 meters squared, bringing the building area up to 1,800 sq. metres. It is this increase in size that now requires the Town to add a sprinkler system in order to abide by National Building Code requirements. While there is a well adjacent to the site that currently provides water to the facility, Driedger added it is not capable of being used for a sprinkler system.

“This well does not have the capacity to serve as the water source for a sprinkler system, so we also need to include a water source as part of the project scope,” she said.

Increasing the budget by $450,000 and financing through debt would mean the Town would see an increase of roughly $40,000 a year to its debt financing for the utility rate model, although no changes in utility rates for consumers would be seen in 2020. 

Mayor John Borrowman supported the motion, indicating it falls in line with the Town’s mission to decrease it’s environmental impact.

“It’s been very well received in our community, it’s a logical progression for the Town of Canmore and dealing with our multi-waste system,” he said.

Council supported the motion, including Coun. Esme Comfort and Coun. Joanna McCallum.

“I’m happy to support this,” said Coun. McCallum. “I agree the community wants this and we should try to make this difference.”

Driedger also asked council to support an increased budget and scope change for the project to install solar panels on Elevation place. The funding for the change to the project would come from reserves and a grant through the Alberta Municipal Solar program. 

“[Administration recommends] that council approve a scope change for project 7074, Elevation Place Solar System, to include all of the roof areas 1 and a result, a budget increase of $164,000, for a total budget of $594,000 to be funded $430,000 from general capital reserves and $164,000 by an Alberta Municipal Solar program grant,” she said.

Driedger said in the community, Elevation Place is one of the top three consumers of energy in both natural gas and electricity consumption.

“By taking advantage of the solar opportunity at Elevation Place, the Town could demonstrate climate action leadership while working towards our greenhouse gas reduction target and reducing our electric utility costs,” said Driedger.

However, the funding isn’t exactly concrete. The Town would have to apply for the grant and quickly. Driedger indicated the longer it waits, the more likely the funds available from the provincial government in the form of the solar program grant will be allocated to other projects.

“I don’t think any of us want to take the risk of losing the grant funding that’s in place,” said Mayor Borrowman, expressing concern that the municipality might lose already secured grant funding for the original project by changing its scope and applying for more funds. 

At the end of the discussion, council approved the motion put forward by Borrowman to change the scope and budget to expand the project and seek the additional grant funding. 

Coun. McCallum added the move makes sense from a financial and sustainable perspective.

“I’d be happy to support this motion, I think with the changes that are being made to elecricity in the province and if we’re expected to grow, that this just makes sense for us financially,” said Coun. McCallum. “In addition to the fact that this building is the largest consumer of electricity in the community, it just makes sense from a sustainability and financial perspective.”

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