Columbia Basin Trust provides $900,000 this year through its new Energy Retrofit Program
(Columbia Basin) –Twenty-five buildings in the region, with over 500 affordable housing units, will be more energy efficient following the first intake of Columbia Basin Trust’s new Energy Retrofit Program.
A total of 17 non-profit societies will receive support for energy retrofits ranging from extra insulation to new HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems. Grants vary from a few thousand dollars to just over $100,000 and will help improve the sustainability of over 500 affordable housing units located in 13 Basin communities.
“Non-profit housing organizations in the Basin approached us for help with energy retrofits, and that was the origin of this new program,” said Mark Brunton, Columbia Basin Trust Manager, Housing. “They followed through with good projects that demonstrate a real interest in making affordable housing properties more energy efficient and sustainable, and more comfortable for their residents.”
The Trust is working with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and BC Housing to deliver the program.
Cranbrook’s Aqanttanam Housing Society is one of the grant recipients. It provides safe, clean affordable housing to low-income families, primarily of native ancestry. The 18 townhouse units in its Claydon Villa have high tenant utility bills. To help reduce these costs and improve energy efficiency, the society will complete energy upgrades, including insulating the outside basement walls and installing energy-efficient lighting.
“With energy costs rising, this grant will enable us to make improvements, therefore reducing energy costs for our low-income tenants,” said Austin Parisien, Society Executive Director. “Without assistance of this nature, tenants will continue to struggle with payment of utility bills.”
In Fernie, the Tom Uphill Manor provides 27 affordable housing units for seniors and people with disabilities. The Fernie Family Housing Society will make the manor more energy efficient, comfortable and cost effective by replacing two aging boilers and improving the HVAC system.
“Our prime focus for this project is to upgrade the HVAC system and reduce energy costs at Tom Uphill Manor,” said Sheila Sherburne, Society General Manager. “With the grant provided by Columbia Basin Trust, we will now be able to undergo the detailed planning work to provide a better home to all of our tenants that will run more efficiently, be more comfortable and secure long-term tenancy.”
In Valemount, the Golden Years Lodge provides low-cost housing to 13 seniors. The Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society will be upgrading the lodge’s fluorescent lights, two aging boilers and three hot water tanks. The goal is to make this essential equipment more energy efficient and reliable, provide better heating and lighting for tenants, and reduce operating and maintenance costs for the society.
“Our facilities are nearly 30 years old and the heating and lighting systems are greatly in need of upgrading,” said Dee McEachern, Society Chair. “Valemount does not have natural gas, so we rely on electricity, and with the extremely high cost of electricity these days, we are looking at every possible way to reduce our operating and maintenance costs so we can use those savings to provide even better low-cost housing for our residents.”
The Trust announced the new $2-million program in March 2017, which helps provide energy conservation upgrades for affordable housing in the Basin. The second grant intake will be in early 2018.
To see the full list of projects funded, click here.
Residents told the Trust that affordable housing, energy conservation and supporting non-profits were priorities for them; this new program addresses all three. Learn more about the Trust’s work in housing at ourtrust.org/housing.