City council is moving forward with exploring the concept of teaming up with residents on energy home retrofits with the passing of a Notice of Motion.
Councillor Paul Harris had initially brought forward the Notice of Motion at the Feb. 21st council meeting.
The crux of the Notice of Motion would see a change in provincial legislation which would allow municipalities to develop programs to enable citizens to undertake energy efficiency work on private property as local improvements. The Motion also stated the investments would improve the value of properties, promote economic diversification while opening new industries in Red Deer.
“A program of this nature would allow a citizen to come to the City with an idea to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their home through an energy retrofit,” explained Harris, citing examples like solar panels or a more energy efficient furnace.
“The City would require that certain criteria be met,” he said. The various retrofits would be amortized on a resident’s tax bill – so it’s not a loan to a person, it’s a loan to a property, said Harris. “So if you move, it stays with the property,” he said, adding that such a program wouldn’t cost the City anything.
“But the immediate benefit that you would have would be reduced utility bills. It’s almost a wash – your taxes would go up a little bit, but your utilities bills would come down. So it costs you nothing, and it would be putting people to work. It’s a win all the way around for everybody,” he said.
“This could set the tone for other municipalities. It’s an easy win for the province – they have to do nothing except change the legislation. They don’t have to introduce a program. And they will be spurring all of this innovation in our province, which is what they need to do.”
Councillor Tanya Handley felt supporting the Notice of Motion would show that council was advocating to the provincial government for too many things at once, and she didn’t feel that this particular issue was at the top of the priority list.
But Harris noted that ultimately, advocacy is the job of council.
“We’re here to represent our citizens and advocate for the needs of our community,” he said. “If there are a dozen advocacy issues, there are a dozen. If there are two, there are two,” he said, adding the various advocacy issues are in a range of departments. “All of these ministers want to do great things, and they need direction from the municipalities. It’s not like we are advocating to just one person overwhelmingly. That’s how I feel about it anyway.
Ultimately, a clause about the resolution being forwarded to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, “With the request that it be adopted as an advocacy priority” was removed.
However, the City will make steps to advocate to the province for legislation that would enable, “The undertaking of refundable debt strategies for energy efficiency programs on private properties as local improvements.”