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Banff council looking to clean energy improvement tax bylaw

“This is an affordable way that residents and businesses can afford to take out loans and to try to retrograde and upgrade their houses and businesses. They may not be able to do this otherwise.”
Banff Town Hall 1
Banff Town Hall

BANFF – The Town of Banff is one step closer to moving ahead with a long-awaited program to help businesses and residents use more renewable technologies and make energy efficient upgrades to their properties.

On Tuesday (Oct. 11), the governance and finance committee recommended a clean energy improvement tax bylaw be given three readings by council at a future date – the first formal step required under the Municipal Government Act in order to develop and launch a clean energy improvement program (CEIP).

Mayor Corrie DiManno supports moving CEIP along, noting it is a goal in Banff’s renewable energy transition roadmap to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s so important that we take action from these plans and that we don’t just create these plans and put them on a shelf,” she said.

“This is an affordable way that residents and businesses can afford to take out loans and to try to retrograde and upgrade their houses and businesses. They may not be able to do this otherwise.”

More commonly referred to throughout North America as a property assessed clean energy program, a clean energy improvement program authorizes municipalities to loan funds to residential and commercial property owners for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades.

Repayment of a loan is made over time through the property owner’s municipal property tax bill.

The types of upgrades that could be eligible include heating such as a high efficiency furnace or air source heat pump; water heating like a tankless natural gas water heater or drain water heat recovery; solar PV; and doors, windows and insulation among others.

In Alberta, residential CEIPs already exist in Devon, Leduc and Rocky House. Edmonton has launched a commercial program and there is talk that a residential program is on the way.

In addition, tax bylaws to enable these programs have been passed in several Alberta municipalities, including Canmore, where there are plans to launch a residential clean energy improvement program later this year.

If the proposed tax bylaw passes in Banff, administration will develop the program details, including financing proposals, administrative cost projections and procedures and eligibility requirements for council discussion and debate.

Michael Hay, manager of environmental services for the Town of Banff, said administration has chosen to finance residential loans through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as part of a program that provides 80 per cent of the finance required for loans.

“We’re preparing our application as we speak,” he said.

While not required under the MGA, Hay said administration is looking at registering loans on property title.

“It seems like a wise thing to do, just for transparency for anyone buying or selling a home,” he said.

Coun. Ted Christensen, who has long raised concerns about the growing number of employees at the Town of Banff, wanted to know if the program would lead to an increase in staff.

“We don’t foresee that, however, the finance team –  corporate services – I would say have legitimate concerns about how much work is involved in this,” said Hay.

“That’s one of the reasons we will likely charge an administrative fee; however, whether that will result in additional staff requirements remains to be seen.”

In Banff, buildings account for approximately one third of the community’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Banff’s environmental master plan includes a community-wide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 and by 80 per cent by 2050 relative to 2016 emissions. There is also a goal to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.  

In 2016, a study showed the community was responsible for the release of 425,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, of which roughly 96 per cent were by-products of non-renewable fossil fuel consumption.

Banff’s emissions per capita were also more than double the national average, primarily due to the large quantity of visitor transportation emissions.