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Sicamous council approves purchase of biomass heating system for industrial park

District hopes to generate $150,000 to $250,000 per year from system
The District of Sicamous awarded a contract to supply and install a complete biomass heating system to Fink Machine Inc. with a phase one contract price of $870,821 plus applicable taxes on Nov. 10, 2021. (Zachary Roman/Eagle Valley News)

A biomass heating system is coming to Sicamous’ industrial park.

At its Nov. 10 meeting, District of Sicamous council approved a motion to award a contract to supply and install a complete biomass heating system to Fink Machine Inc. with a phase-one contract price of $870,821 plus applicable taxes.

Fink Machine sells wood chip and wood pellet boilers, which clients such as the District of Sicamous use for heating needs.

A district staff report shows it received $484,494 in grant funding from CleanBC and $175,000 from the Fraser Basin Council for phase one of the project. It’s also using $211,328 of taxation revenue.

According to the report, phase one is for the acquisition and installation of the boiler system and a related building. The second phase is for the completion of the distribution system.

The district anticipates using an $875,000 grant from Natural Resources Canada and $3,740 of taxation revenue for phase two.

Couns. Ryan Airey and Bob Evans were opposed to awarding the contract, while the rest of council and Mayor Terry Rysz were in favour.

Airey said while the cost the district is getting the heating system for means it will be self-sustaining, he’s not sure if it’s the best use of the money awarded to the district.

Evans said he had questions about the project all along and they haven’t been answered to his satisfaction.

In a Nov. 24 interview, Evans said he’d heard it could be $300 to $700 per metre of piping to get heat from the facility to wherever its going, which he said would make it not useful for properties outside the industrial park.

“Anything else industrial that goes in there could have access to it… in Enderby, the biomass plant, it usually does help businesses and it makes it more affordable so I do get that,” he said. “But… it was a good chunk of taxpayer dollars.”

To Evans, the expense to the taxpayer and the piping costs were reason enough to make him vote no.

Town manager Evan Parliament said the heating system’s first industrial park tenant is ready to hook up and they should see savings on heating costs. He also said two more future tenants have expressed interest in hooking up.

Coun. Jeff Mallmes said the heating system will create between 1.5 and 2.5 million kilowatt hours of energy per year depending on demand. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour, the district could see a maximum of $150,000 to $250,000 in gross revenue per year, Mallmes said.

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