Vernon councillor Brian Quiring was reacting to a challenge from colleague Kari Gares over Quiring’s notice of motion to have city staff investigate requiring all new single-family homes to be built in Vernon with solar-ready infrastructure to accommodate future installation of a solar system.
“I’m not against solar. I know there are people looking at other alternatives for energy sources. It’s the imposition of it. That’s my issue,” said Gares.
“I don’t think every household is going to go solar. That’s the sheer reality of it. If we’re forcing every single-family residential home, row housing, and apartment to have all these aspects of accessibility, the reality is only a small percentage are going to uptake it.
“Why are we, as council, going outside of our climate action plan, forcing homeowners, builders, and developers to implement something that, for the most part, is not going to be utilized to the highest degree?”
Quiring said his notice of motion is in alignment with the city’s climate action plan, and moving the city toward solar readiness for single-family residential new home construction.
“It’s significantly less expensive during the framing stage, rather than the renovation phase,” he said. “It’s a couple of one-inch conduits. It’s less expensive than a rough-in for central vac. It’s very, very inexpensive.”
The actual costs will be something investigated by staff.
An architect in his day job, Quiring said he’s dealing with older condos in the Okanagan that want to put in electric vehicle charging stations.
“We’re running into problems trying to retrofit existing facilities,” he said. “I don’t see it (notice of motion) as an imposition. I see it as leadership.”
Quiring disputed Gares’ statement about not every household wanting to go solar.
“I’ll challenge you on that,” he said. “I see people building houses and making provisions within the roof assembly to be able to carry it. That trend is happening. Solar is coming. This (Vernon) is a great place for solar.”
Council passed Quiring’s notice by a 6-1 margin with only Gares opposed. Coun. Teresa Durning said her family would have solar energy in their old house if the infrastructre had been built into it.
“This (requirement) won’t make such a huge difference, especially if we incentivize it,” said Durning. “I’d like to see us give people a discount when we do the build.”
Mayor Victor Cumming agreed with Gares about families in the city struggling to make ends meet. What Quiring’s motion will do, he said, is create long-term electric cost certainty against the edge of rising electric costs.
Gares also questioned why the motion isolated single-family homes outside of multi-residential.
“Generally I felt multi-family was more complicated and not quite as inexpensive as single-family,” said Quiring.