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Net-zero system deemed unsuitable for library project

County staff have determined net-zero infrastructure for the Picton Library’s expansion is not a viable option.

Staff were directed to explore the option following a presentation to Committee of the Whole in September to evaluate installing net-zero heating and cooling infrastructure, partially funded (up to 15 per cent grant and) by the Federation of Canadian Municipality’s Green Municipal Fund, with the balance in a low-cost loan (up to $5 million).

After discussions with the PEC Library CEO Barbara Sweet and Benjamin Koczwarski from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, staff has determined the net-zero infrastructure process proposed  would not be a viable option for this particular project. That confirms a library-commissioned independent engineering report in 2018 which did not recommend geo-thermal/net-zero infrastructure as a fiscally responsible option for that location.

The PEC Library Board has spent $238,220 in consultant reports, including engineering reports, completed the tender process and has chosen a construction company.

“Undergoing a new engineering plan, for infrastructure already deemed unsuitable for their property would cause significant delay to the project,” said Emily Cowan, Grants and Special Projects Co-ordinator, in her report to Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

She provides a cost-benefit analysis showing a geothermal field and heat pump HVAC system would cost approximately $630,000 to $900,000, plus other costs.

Taking into account the grant and loan, the library, she said, would need to pay about $765,000 and a portion of the engineering report – over and above the construction costs associated with the expansion.

“While not suitable for the Picton Library expansion specifically, the consideration of incorporating net-zero energy infrastructure in new builds, or the renovation of municipal buildings has merit,” she said, “especially now that council has declared a climate emergency.”

UPDATE: Council accepted staff’s recommendation but amended approval to note that staff, in collaboration with the municipality’s new environmental advisory committee, explore viability for implementing net zero infrasturture for muncipally-owned buildings moving forward.

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  1. Scott Farkus says:

    Council acknowledges that climate change is something that needs to be addressed. Now they are presented with a golden opportunity(including good PR) to help mitigate future impact of a less efficient energy system and they decide that it’s not financially viable. Yet again, saying to future generations that they aren’t worth it. Do we really wonder why these younger generations are frustrated with us?

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m sure that there are many good suggestions out there about how the Library Board (appointed volunteers) could improve things and how they can make more money, etc.. What needs to be remembered is how Council controls (and I mean controls) this operation. Not that long ago, the Council of the day decided not to grant library “employees” equalization pay that other employees received as a means for cost savings. This went on for a number of years, until the Board raised the problem publicly at a council meeting. Approximately 5 years ago, those same Board members were replaced by Council – no explanation was given other than it was time for a change – and no thanks was ever extended to those volunteers who donated years of service.

    I asked before why the Library Board didn’t receive help and advice from the municipality about library expansion – now after a few years of planning and fundraising, all the municipality can do is offer refusals. The library is the most used public facility in The County and to date this Board has been made to look like when things go wrong it is their fault – when it is not! They are volunteers who are trying to do good things without much help from their masters. There is something wrong at the top – not at the bottom of this situation. One thing has been shown to be true – it is time for a change – a big change at the top!

  3. Theresa says:

    Isn’t is long past time for the PEC Library system to charge late fees on overdue items?

  4. Angus Ross says:

    It is clear that staff did not understand the FCM financing – the municipality would receive a grant of 15% of 20% of the TOTAL cost, not just the additional cost of the net zero. Did staff actually talk with FCM – they never confirmed that they did. They certainly did not contact John Ambrose who put forward the net zero proposal for his input into the financial and engineering aspects. Taxpayers will be liable for the continuing maintenance and expenses of a standard HVAC system which is substantially higher than any costs of the net zero. There was no independent engineering report done – as was requested of the library board in 2018. To my mind this was a slipshod report designed to support an already taken decision.

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