By Chad Ingram
Published April 24 2018
A wood-fuelled heating system for downtown Haliburton is a step closer to reality after the municipality of Dysart et al was approved for a $2.8 million grant from the province toward the project.
Back in September after hearing a presentation from Jamie Stephen of Torchlight Bioresources Inc. council passed a resolution to apply for a grant from the Municipal Greenhouse Gas Challenge Fund which operates with revenues from the province’s cap and trade system.
The system would involve a central energy centre where wood chips would be burned in specialized equipment heating water in a boiler that water then distributed throughout a series of underground pipes providing heat and water heating to buildings in the downtown area of Haliburton Village.
At an April 23 council meeting Stephen who drew up the grant application on behalf of the township said the grant represented about half of the costs to develop the project.
“That was a central component of the bioheat project moving ahead” he said. Stephen seemed optimistic a federal grant would help top up that amount.
The municipality would own the system’s infrastructure and a utility governed by a corporation with a board would be responsible for the operation of the system. A public-private partnership the municipality and a private consortium would split revenues 50/50 and each comprise half the composition of the board.
The project would ideally connect about 45 mostly commercial and municipal buildings in the downtown to the system.
Mayor Murray Fearrey wanted to know what kind of heating bills building owners would be looking at.
“Building owners are going to want to know what the cost is going to be before they sign onto this” Fearrey said.
Until engineering and costing are completed Stephen said it was not possible to offer an exact figure but said the goal is to reduce heating bills by up to 30 per cent.
“The goal is to make a substantial impact on the overall cost of heating” he said.
Stephen added that the more business owners who sign up to be part of the project the less the cost will be for each. There would be no mandate for building owners to connect to the system and they would still have their traditional heating system intact.
The wood chips used in the system would be purchased from Haliburton Forest under contract and Stephen had identified an unused piece of property at the intersection of Maple Avenue and York Street beside the library parking lot as a potential location for the energy centre. Stephen had preliminary renderings of what the facility might look like.
“I would like to dispel any notion people might have about a giant power plant” Stephen said. The images depicted a relatively small one-storey building that would include a lot of glass elements so passersby would be able to watch the process unfolding inside.
As for timelines “This year is all about planning and permitting and getting final costing” Stephen said.
The hope is for a building schedule to be finalized in the summer of 2019 and a public meeting on the project is to be held in the future.