Our Future is Brighter with Solar

November 20th, 2017: Unceded Coast Salish Territory; Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh Peoples.

With the threats of climate change looming, Force of Nature volunteers have been working together on their piece of the climate solutions puzzle. One of the Lower Mainland’s biggest challenges will be to develop a quick energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Over the summer, our solar team has been working hard to remove the red tape around solar photovoltaic permitting for small scale residential solar installations in Metro Vancouver.

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After researching our cities climate and community plans, looking at success stories in BC, Canada and the US, as well as working with solar installation companies, the team found the permitting process is unnecessarily time consuming, expensive and inconsistent. Families installing solar often pay thousands of dollars in associated costs to attain permits, on top of our cities varying permit fees (ie. electrical, building and development permits). Those costs often show up in the form of structural analyses, engineer reports, architecture sketches and staff time to make redundant visits to the city. High permit costs and fees lengthen return on investment and unnecessary waiting and multiple reviews of the same application leave solar consumers waiting months and paying more just to get approved for permits. Our team wanted to change that.

Cities like Colwood (BC), Dawson’s Creek (BC), Toronto, Calgary, San Jose, Seattle, San Diego and Portland share the requirements of an ‘expedited permitting process,’ which simplifies the permitting process for standard housing and solar systems meeting specific requirements. The result? People are able to access solar PV installations quicker and cheaper than most of our cities in Metro Vancouver and their cities are blooming with solar PV. Expedited permitting processes for solar PV are required by law for municipalities in the state of California.

With petitions in hand, our team took to the streets and in just 3 months, collected over 4,200 hand-signatures supporting our call upon municipal governments to adopt an expedited permitting process for solar PV, which would save our communities thousands of dollars and months of waiting for city permits. They then drafted an info document with their research, created a presentation and have been stepping off the streets, with public support behind them, into Metro Vancouver council chambers to advocate for change.

So far they have presented in delegations to the Mayor and Council of New Westminster and the Smart Growth Committee of Port Coquitlam. Their next delegation is Dec 4 to the City Council of West Vancouver.

While it may take time for the cities to respond to our recommendations, our team showed that with hard work and cooperation, we don’t need to wait for our governments to make the changes we need. Together, we can lead the change we want to see, create great solutions to climate change and push our transition to renewable energies. Our future is brighter with solar.

Want to help? Can you make a small donation to help our team continue their work? Your donation will help our volunteers print petitions, handouts and buy snacks to keep them fueled on the streets!

Thank you for your donation and commitment to our work!

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