My Thoughts on the Recent Blatchford Discussions
I am dizzy from spinning and spinning! Discussions about Blatchford are like sitting on a merry go round. At first it’s fun, but the repetitious circling creates nausea. Council has been committed to the Master Plan Principles to make Blatchford a carbon neutral community. Over the last two days we were supposed to be debating a District Energy Sharing System and determine where to go with this aspect of Blatchford. To date, we have been on time and under budget. The runways are gone and recycled, buildings have been taken down and removed and even sold when possible. Remediation is complete.
We are ready to go on a District Energy system and were set to look at two options brought to council. Meanwhile both the Provincial and Federal governments are interested in supporting such initiatives. We unanimously agreed as a Council to reach out and advocate to the different levels of governments to see if indeed funding might be available to help us with this work. To me, that is being a responsible steward of the project and not compromising our principles.
We also heard for the first time from EPCOR who are interested in working with us on this project. We agreed that it was in our best interest to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding regarding a renewable energy utility model for Blatchford. They presented Council with very high level options of wind and solar to us and we are going to need more than a high level look at these options before we can responsibly make any decision.
Unfortunately, these decisions do mean a delay of up to one year for development on Blatchford. District Energy is proven technology but it must be complemented with other energy sources to meet our vision for Blatchford.
Throughout the process we have engaged experts at various points to ensure we had good understanding of what is needed. We have a Business Advisory Group, which includes developers and environmental specialists. We also have a Community Stakeholder group, consisting of representatives from the surrounding communities and businesses.
Some have used the opportunity to discuss District Energy as the opportunity to question whether we as a City should be pursing the development of Blatchford at all.
I remain true to the vision, but feel we need to be responsible stewards of the development. I also believe we must continue to work towards this and trust we can be nimble and develop the site according to the principles as funds are available.