Squamish is Taking Steps to Become the Fifth Solar City in Canada


By Arman Kazemi

September 10, 2015

Squamish is on track to become one of a handful of Canadian communities recognized for their leadership in solar power initiatives. 

Last week, the district council voted to work with the Squamish Alternative Energy Group to help satisfy the Canadian Solar Cities Project’s criteria for becoming a “Solar City.”

Set out in partnership with the City of Dawson Creek and the Government of British Columbia, the Canadian Solar Cities Project provides guidelines to help cities and municipalities across Canada fall in line with international solar city models.

The program’s criteria include developing, supporting and encouraging “community renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies and green living demonstration projects.”

According to the organization’s website, “qualifying Canadian communities will be among the most sustainable places in the world.”

Last week’s Squamish council vote came in response to a letter from Canadian Solar Cities setting out three conditions the district would have to meet if it hoped to become the fifth Solar City in Canada since the program was established in 2012.

The organization required that the district commit to mounting a demonstration project on a municipal building, that it set a date to complete a climate change plan, and that it file an application stating that it commits to the project. 

According to the Squamish Chief, the Alternative Energy Group’s Matt Blackman told the district council that becoming a Canadian Solar City will “bring business, alternative energy and clean energy businesses to Squamish by basically kicking our renewable energy industry in this town – manufacturing and installation – into high gear.”

The only cities in Canada to receive this designation so far are Dawson Creek (which cofounded the project), Colwood, the T’Sou-ke First Nation and the City of North Vancouver, all located in B.C.

The City of North Vancouver supplemented a well-insulated and efficient natural gas heating system, managed by Lonsdale Energy Corporation, “with one of the largest solar thermal panel arrays in B.C.” Council, meanwhile, implemented zoning policy requiring “most new multi-family residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings to have a connection to LEC.”

Squamish will have to commit to similar practices if it hopes to join the Solar City ranks. According to Blackman, last week’s vote was a good first step.

“I am pleased that it has moved ahead,” Blackman told the Squamish Chief following the council meeting. “Council and the mayor have put skin in the game now, as opposed to just listening politely.”