Biomass heating approved for Burns Lake’s arena

Cheaper and more efficient heat is the driver behind council's decision to move forward with phase one of a biomass heating project.

Cheaper and more efficient heat is the driver behind council’s decision to move forward with phase one of a biomass heating project.

Council has now approved the installation of a biomass heating system at the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena which is set to replace the use of natural gas and electricity that is currently used to heat the arena.

The phase one project will involve the construction of a pellet boiler plant at the arena.

“This project has multiple, cascading benefits for our community,” said mayor Bernice Magee via a press release. She went on to say that switching to a biomass heating system means that the village will be able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support local pellet mills and reduce energy costs in the arena.

“In the wake of the devastation caused by the mountain pine beetle, local economic diversification projects that support the forest industry are extremely important. We are pleased to support local industry and at the same time, work towards the sustainability of the arena, which is a cornerstone of our community.”

The idea for the project was originally conceived at the Burns Lake Energy Forum hosted by the village. Village administration then successfully applied for grant funding from the provincial Towns for Tomorrow program to fund the project.

According to village chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing, grant funding will cover a significant portion of phase one of the arena biomass heating project.

“A total of $196,000 was received from the provincial Towns for Tomorrow program to be used for the project and other arena heating projects and approximately $102,000 will be used from the municipal Gas Tax Funds,” she said.

Two phases are planned for the project. “Council has approved phase one at this point, which will be completed this summer, they will review the success of the project next year and the new council elected in November will likely make a decision about phase two during their term,” Worthing said.

A report from the Canadian Biomass Energy Research Ltd. was also commissioned which provided information on the feasibility and costs of the project.

Work on the project is set to begin over the summer and areas of the building that are heated in the winter months will be changed over to the new system in time for the next ice season at the arena.

“The district heating system that would implement biomass heating for buildings in the downtown core is a separate project from the arena biomass project. Research and studies are currently being completed on the district heating system but there are no plans or dates for implementation at this point,” Worthing added.