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Saanich Commonwealth Place conversion to biomass fuel will dramatically cut GHGs

District’s largest rec centre and emitter could see a 90-per-cent reduction
A plan to convert to biomass boilers at Saanich Commonwealth Place aims to reduce the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent. (Courtesy District of Saanich)

Saanich is taking another major step toward reducing its operational greenhouse gas emissions.

The district will begin construction this fall to upgrade natural-gas-fuelled boilers at Saanich Commonwealth Place to biomass-fed units, with the goal of reducing the facility’s GHG emissions by 90 per cent.

This largest recreation facility in the municipality is also the largest creator of emissions among district facilities. The conversion to renewable fuel from fossil fuel is an important and positive step in the district’s journey to reduce its corporate carbon footprint and meet its goal of becoming a 100-per-cent renewable community, said Mayor Fred Haynes.

“The new heating system will use a locally sourced renewable biomass fuel which will reduce costs, increase efficiency and support our local economy and climate goals,” he said in a release.

The new system is slated to be up and running by fall 2023. The district states that the project is “fully supported” by $4 million in federal gas tax funding awarded to Saanich in 2018.

RELATED STORY: Energy retrofit at Saanich rec centre to cut GHG emissions by 85 per cent

Biomass energy is the creation of heat and/or power from biofuel such as solid wood or wood residues, agricultural crop residues, aquatic plants and animal wastes. Chemainus company BioFlame Briquettes will provide highly efficient biomass pucks for the new boilers made from post-industrial milling operations.

Preparations for the project begin this summer, with construction scheduled to start in September. The facility will be closed to the public between Sept. 5 and Oct. 10 due to interruptions to basic utilities including electrical power and water during construction. Alternate temporary spaces are being sought for the centre’s most popular programs during this time, which is an extension of the annual maintenance shutdown.

Other maintenance such as structural repairs of the dive tower, re-tiling of the competition pool, LED lighting upgrades, plumbing repairs, electrical maintenance and painting will also take place during the closure.

Patrons can use their Saanich Access Pass to visit one of the other three recreation centres during the closure. Visit for more information.


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