First Nations bring solar power to affordable housing
Three projects are supported by the Columbia Basin Trust and the New Relationship Trust
Three Columbia Basin First Nations are increasing the renewable energy production and sustainability of their affordable rental housing by adding solar panels. This improves energy efficiency while creating sustainable, comfortable and affordable housing for members. The projects receive support from the Columbia Basin Trust and the New Relationship Trust.
“For several years, the Trust has worked with First Nations in the region to support their efforts to increase the availability and quality of affordable rental housing for community members,” said Mark Brunton, Senior Director, Benefit Delivery , Columbia Basin Trust. “By adding solar panels, they will now be able to generate their own renewable energy and reduce their utility bills through net metering.”
“The New Relationship Trust is proud to partner with the Columbia Basin Trust to fund solar projects in First Nations communities that support energy sovereignty,” said Walter Schneider, CEO of the New Relationship Trust, which offers funding programs First Nations communities in British Columbia. “We believe these innovative partnerships provide opportunities for nation building in First Nations communities across British Columbia.
Together, the solar panels in these three communities will produce approximately 200,000 kilowatt hours per year, which will power approximately 31 homes.
The Trust launched extensive support for First Nations affordable housing in 2017, following discussions with Basin First Nations. Since then, First Nations have built or are building over 80 affordable rental units and have completed assessments, energy retrofits, and health and safety upgrades to over 200 additional homes in their communities. Additionally, First Nations are working together to improve their asset management processes and capacity, supported by the Trust, BC Housing and Indigenous Services Canada.
Learn more about the Trust’s work to support First Nations housing at ourtrust.org/firstnationshousing.
The New Relationship Trust is an independent body established by the New Relationship Trust Act (2006). He is dedicated to providing grantmaking programs to First Nations across British Columbia and working with governments and organizations to leverage funding sources that build First Nations capacity for self-determination and betterment. environmental, governmental, social and economic outcomes. Learn more at newrelationshiptrust.ca.
The Trust is providing $483,000 for solar panels, fiber and training, and the New Relationship Trust is providing $126,000 for solar panels for the following three projects:
Kenpésq̓t (Shuswap Indian Band) is adding solar panels to the 13 affordable rental units it created in 2020 and 2021: eight one-bedroom units and five larger family units.
“The solar panels will be good for the environment and will reduce energy costs for our tiny homes and our five new modular homes,” said Housing Manager Dolores Nicholas.
Yaq̓it ʔa knuqⱡi’it
Yaq̓it ʔa knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band) is adding solar panels to 12 units built since 2018: a quadruplex, a triplex, a duplex, a modular home and two tiny homes. This project will also aim to train, mentor and employ local First Nations people to install the solar panels, creating meaningful training opportunities to increase knowledge and experience.
“Affordable housing is always a top priority for the ʔakanuxunik̓ (people) of Yaq̓it ʔa knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band),” said Nasuʔkin Heidi Gravelle. “Adding these solar panels to our 12 rental units will help our members access more affordable electricity. Currently, there are constant problems with power outages; having solar panels will make it less dependent on grid power. This project will also engage and recruit members as there will be three training opportunities for them to learn and gain knowledge about solar energy systems.
“Alignment with the community’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of green energy is an added benefit. We are excited for all the benefits this project will bring to Yaq̓it ʔa knuqⱡi’it.
Yaqan NuɁkiy (Lower Kootenay Band) is adding solar panels to six units – two tiny homes that were built in 2020/21 and four that are beginning construction this year – and bringing fiber optic cable to the four new units under construction, allowing them to join a high-speed Internet network in the future. They will also train, mentor and employ local First Nations people to install the solar panels and fiber optic cable, creating two meaningful training opportunities to increase knowledge and experience.
“Installing these solar panels for the new, highly efficient tiny homes will not only provide training opportunities for Lower Kootenay band members, but will also allow these tiny homes to generate their own renewable energy,” said Debbie Edge. -Partington, Housing Coordinator.
“Many homes in LKB are poorly insulated and energy inefficient, so having six new net zero homes will have a big impact on energy bills.”
Since 2002, the Trust has helped 30 communities in the basin to develop, build, upgrade or repair over 3,500 homes. This has happened through initiatives with First Nations, local housing organizations, developers, federal and provincial governments, and basin colleges. Learn more at ourtrust.org/housing.
Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people of the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives and how it helps bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.
Main picture: Kenpésq̓t will add solar panels with support from the Columbia Basin Trust and the New Relationship Trust. Photos from the Columbia Basin Fund
Columbia Basin Trust