Federal funding has been directed to Saanich Commonwealth Place, including the development of biomass boilers allowing the facility to use renewable fuel instead of fossil fuels. (Saanich News file photo)

Federal funding has been directed to Saanich Commonwealth Place, including the development of biomass boilers allowing the facility to use renewable fuel instead of fossil fuels. (Saanich News file photo)

Gas tax funds fuel a greener Commonwealth Place

$4 million contribution will go towards achieving carbon neutrality at Saanich Commonwealth Place

A $4 million contribution from the federal gas tax will make a big splash at Saanich Commonwealth Place.

The district plans to use the gas tax funding to help reduce the recreation centre’s carbon footprint by 90 per cent paving the way for the facility to achieve carbon neutrality.

“Saanich appreciates both the UBCM and the Federal Government for their financial support to increase energy efficiency of our recreation facilities as we work toward achieving 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050,” said Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell.

Design work will begin this year with construction in 2019 through 2021.The mechanical system replacement includes the deployment of biomass boilers, an upgrade from the existing natural gas boilers. This conversion enables the facility to use renewable fuel instead of fossil fuels, which are currently responsible for nearly one-fifth of Saanich’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The increased cooling capacity in many areas of the building will enhance services offered to the public.

“An investment in community infrastructure is an investment in our quality of life,” said Saanich South MLA Lana Popham. “I would like to recognize the partnership between all levels of government that will renew a valuable community asset for the people of Saanich.”

Commonwealth Place – built as part of the legacy of the 1994 Commonwealth Games – is used by more than 2,500 residents every day, employing about 200 staff and 150 contractors. The facility offers a wide range of services, including the Bruce Hutchison public library, the Pacific Sport Institute Victoria, two 50-metre pools with a dive tank and teaching pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna, café, gymnasium, weight room, teen centre, dance studio and five multi-purpose rooms. The project’s phased construction will align with regularly scheduled shutdowns at SCP to minimize interruptions to business operations, programming and events.

The total project cost is estimated at $4 million, which is fully supported through the federal gas tax fund. The project is considered a high priority, with funding allowing for the replacement of key mechanical systems that have reached the end of their service life.