‘For our kids’: Bradford has a plan to amp up energy efficiency

Future projects could include more upgrades to Bob Fallis Sports Centre and water pollution control plant, LED street lighting as part of the Holland Street reconstruction and electrification of the town’s vehicle fleet

Bradford continues to look for ways to go green and save some green in the process.

That was the message in a report from Terry Foran, director of community services, which provided an update on the town’s energy management plan in accordance with the provincial Green Energy Act, and which was approved by council during its June 18 regular meeting.

According to the report, the town continues to be conscious of its environmental impact and energy consumption, with its 2023 energy costs about $2.2 million and an average cost per square foot for energy use lower than the average for municipalities of similar size and location, though those averages were not included.

Foran emphasized to council that despite the town’s increase in population and services and the rise in energy prices, the municipality’s energy costs are still in line with pre-COVID-19 pandemic costs going back to about 2016.

“We’ve been growing the town, but maintaining the cost percentage,” he said.

Future projects are set to include upgrades to the dehumidification system and upper roof at the Bob Fallis Sports Centre and upgrades to the water pollution control plant. The future Holland Street reconstruction is also expected to provide opportunities for street light improvements similar to a town-wide replacement project in 2015 which saw a 45-per-cent reduction in energy costs and 90-per-cent reduction in maintenance costs.

The town is also investigating the feasibility and most efficient methods for installing charging stations and electrification of its fleet.

In addition to using energy conservation best practices in existing facilities, Foran explained in the report that the town is also integrating those practices in the renovations of older buildings, like the community and social services hub, as well as in the construction of new facilities, like the planned town hall.

That seemed to resonate with Mayor James Leduc.

“We want to protect the environment for our kids, grandkids and future generations,” he said.

Examples of existing new builds include the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library and BWG Leisure Centre, both of which include “state of the art” energy efficient systems and controls and are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.

Still, Foran and his team continued looking for more savings and in 2017 the town began converting all the lights in the leisure centre to LEDs, which resulted in such an “aggressive” cost savings, helping the town see a return on its capital investment within two years, according to Foran.

That inspired the town to ensure all the lights in the recently opened BWG Youth Recreation Centre were also all LEDs.

Beyond lighting, the town has taken on several energy saving initiatives since 2015, including replacing the HVAC system in the sports centre in 2018 followed by the lower roof in 2023, plus upgrading various blowers, pumps and operating software at the water pollution control plant, to name just a few.

Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott praised staff for doing a “bang-up job” and explained work on the town’s climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy will provide even more recommendations for ways the town can reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.

Ward 6 Coun. Nickolas Harper also suggested looking into revenue-based waste-to-energy projects and said he might even have something to bring before council in the coming months.

That went over well with the mayor who said he tried to encourage County of Simcoe council to consider waste-to-energy projects as “the future,” and the county will be sending solid waste for incineration at a Brampton facility, which recaptures energy from the process.

While not a method to reduce consumption, the town does reduce costs by purchasing natural gas through Local Authority Services, a branch of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which allows for collective purchasing to lower rates. According to the report, the town is investigating options to expand that practice to include electricity and fuels as well.

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