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City council eyes green-building program

A motion to show interest in a program promoting energy-efficient building won the support of all St. Albert city councillors on Aug. 20. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program has been on council’s mind for months.

A motion to show interest in a program promoting energy-efficient building won the support of all St. Albert city councillors on Aug. 20.

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program has been on council’s mind for months. At the beginning of July, Coun. Jacquie Hansen announced she would bring forward a motion to support an expression of interest for the PACE program, as well as the possibility of opting into the PACE initiative once provincial regulations are in place.

On Aug. 20, she told her fellow councillors she believes the expression of interest would show council’s commitment to the city’s environment, as well as support for residents who already have ideas for how to improve their homes.

“I am excited about this program. I’m excited about just sort of signalling to our residents that we are keen to get going on this,” she said.

“Some of the projects that residents have talked to me about that they are keen to do but just don't have the money right up front ... are really innovative. And I think that says a lot for our community.”

As the chair for the sustainability committee of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), Mayor Cathy Heron said she would be “intimately involved” in helping to develop the program’s regulations.

“AUMA is completely behind it, the minister of Municipal Affairs is behind it. This works in many jurisdictions in North America,” she said.

“Honestly, this is our chance to say St. Albert wants to be a leader in this, we want to investigate opportunities for our residents and our commercial and industrial businesses to bring in green energy.”

The fact regulations are not in place yet for the program sparked speculation from some councillors about whether they might be jumping the gun on expressing interest in PACE, and prompted a motion from Coun. Sheena Hughes to postpone the expression of interest until regulations are in place. That motion failed 6-1, with Hughes voting in favour; she later supported Hansen’s motion.

City staff also recommended against an expression of interest, suggesting instead that the city consult with the province and with Energy Efficiency Alberta and review the implications of the PACE initiative.

Christian Benson, waste program co-ordinator, said there are still a lot of unknowns about what the program will look like in Alberta.

“Although the environment benefits are quite apparent, we still have some reservations about what (the program) will look like for the municipality until the regulations are developed,” he said.

But Heron said expressing interest in the program doesn’t mean St. Albert is opting in: once regulations are in place, council will have to decide whether they want to develop a bylaw for the program.

“Today is not the opt-in moment – this is just a very public demonstration that we're going for this,” she said.


April Hudson

About the Author: April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette
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