By Heather Ramsay-What changes do islanders see in their communities 20 years down the road and what are the energy implications of that change?
What is most important to islanders when it comes to energy supply? On-island ownership? Environmental sustainability? Or long-term local jobs?
These are some of the questions being asked at the Community Electricity Plans public meetings being held this week.
The electricity plan process has been commissioned by the Council of the Haida Nation and BC Hydro to address the aging diesel generators that supply much of the islands energy.
A Vancouver-based consulting group, Sheltair, is conducting the work and this week they are hoping to attract islanders to several public meetings.
The plan will identify and evaluate alternative sources of electricity such as wind, biomass, small hydro and more.
In Sandspit Monday evening (Feb. 26), a handful of community members dreamed big. They said in 20 years there could be anywhere from 800 to 1,200 people living in Sandspit.
One man talked about the wide open spaces and beauty of the area and how that may soon start attracting people from places like Vancouver.
Angela Griffiths from Sheltair asked the group what type of infrastructure they envisioned the community needing. Long-term care facilities and small-scale wood product processing were mentioned.
One man said manufacturing ethanol from island wood waste could provide energy independence for the islands.
All agreed that bringing three phase power to a proposed industrial site at Alliford Bay would be a great idea.
Next the group talked about what a successful electricity system for the islands would look like.
For people in Sandspit, long-term, good-paying employment for locals was top of mind, especially the type of jobs that would keep children here or entice them back.
People thought it important that energy systems on the islands are linked and back each other up. They also thought innovation and leadership in the technologies used are important.
Having low greenhouse gas emissions from the energy source and little visual impact (no power plants in town and no wind turbines in Shingle Bay) were thought of as givens.
Ms Griffiths said her group will take all the input from these sessions and come back to the communities in May with a package of options.
Public meetings/workshops are being held in Old Massett tonight (March 1) at the community hall and in Masset on March 2 at the community hall starting at 6:15 pm. On March 3 in Skidegate at the Homemaker’s Building the open house begins at 1:15 pm.
Door prizes and refreshments will be available. One of the door prizes is an iPod.
Islanders can also attend one-on-one coffee shop sessions in Old Masset today (Thursday) from 11 am-noon at Tluu Xaada Naay, in Masset on March 2 from 11 am-noon at the Sea Breeze and in Skidegate on Saturday March 3 from 10-11 am.
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