Split vote kills Solar Colwood expansion, extension plans

Solar Colwood’s hopes to expand both its borders and its deadline were dashed at a Colwood city council meeting Monday.

Solar Colwood’s hopes to expand both its borders and its deadline were dashed at a Colwood city council meeting Monday in a split vote.

Proposed changes to the program had been passed at the committee level, but failed to make it through council, with a 3-3 vote defeating the motion. Coun. Teresa Harvey was not present at the meeting.

The changes would have allowed grants for the solar hot water heaters to be available to all homeowners in the Capital Regional District. The deadline for the program would also have been extended a year, to March 2015, primarily to give the Capital City Centre project time to capitalize on the savings.

Uptake for the solar hot water heater grants has been slow in Colwood. Only 34 grants out of an available 880 have been used. On a per capita basis, the success is greater than that of Solar B.C. or any other community in Canada, organizers say, but still well below targets.

“We always knew (targets) were high,” Coun. Judith Cullington said. “This is the area where we’re clearly falling below targets and so how do we do a better job of putting our solar installers to work?”

If approved, Natural Resources Canada would have had to approve the changes.

Mayor Carol Hamilton voted against the changes, believing approval beforehand from NRCan is essential.

“I could not support the motion as it was written. I would like to have seen things done in stages, first of all NRCan would have to be engaged. … If they would let us go outside of the community, then we could ask for the extension.”