Red Deer councillor backs new green program

A Red Deer councillor wants the city to help businesses and residents go green.

Coun. Paul Harris put forth a motion, taking its cues from similar programs in Toronto and Halifax, that would support energy retrofits.

“We have a need in Alberta to diversify our economy,” said Harris. “We’re trying to put people back to work and this is an opportunity for municipalities to improve people’s quality of life in their homes and in their businesses, while at the same time put new businesses to work in out community.”

Calling it an economic development and environmental strategy, the program utilizes refundable debt, which means it not affect the municipal debt or reaches the debt ceiling.

However, the program would require a policy change at the provincial level. He suggests Alberta utilize some of the revenue generated from the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan, which is estimated to total $9.6 billion.

“We can introduce a program here that wouldn’t cost the citizens anything and they could start doing some great things for their home,” said Harris. “Whether that’s installing solar panels, replacing their old gas furnace, whatever it is that seems to be useful to reduce greenhouse gasses.”

Harris believes the provincial government would be thrilled with such a motion, because it gives them a win. A shift in the Municipal Government Act, would allow the city to receive funds that could then be passed on through the program.

People could apply for funding through the city, and have it amortized over a number of years. If the person moved, the amount remaining would transfer to the buyer through a lien.

Harris noted the motion would not cost the municipality any money.

Council will consider the motion at their next meeting, on March 6.

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