Council has change of heart on solar-ready issue
City council isn’t quite ready for new building regulations in Kamloops after all.
A week after a majority of council members voted in favour of a new regulation that would ensure every new home and secondary suite be outfitted with solar hot-water-ready capability, they have had a change of heart, with two councillors who originally voted yes changing their minds this week.
At Tuesday’s (Dec. 13) council meeting, Nelly Dever asked to rescind the decision, which started a fresh debate and eventually led to the demise of the fresh bylaw.
Based on council procedure, a member of the majority on a vote can bring forth a motion to revisit the issue if they have a change of mind.
Dever said she voted in favour of the regulation based on information presented at the time — specifically noting a survey from the Canadian Home Builders Association-Central Interior that only had a 12 per cent response from the group’s members.
However, since the Dec. 6 decision, the rookie councillor said she has received a slew of calls and emails from homebuilders who are concerned with the new regulation.
“I think it’s important we take the time to hear what they [home builders] have to say,” Dever said.
She said she was unaware she could bring forth the motion or ask for Canadian Home Builders Association representatives to return to council at a later date — a mistake Dever promised she will not repeat.
Marg Spina said she supports solar technology, but felt the timing of the regulation was off, given the harmonized sales tax is still in place.
Spina suggested the city form a task force or committee to look at the issue, but her motion failed.
Councillors Nancy Bepple, Donovan Cavers and Arjun Singh did not change their vote and remained in favour of the bylaw.
The new regulation would not have required every new home to come with a solar hot-water heater. It required the infrastructure needed to add a heater if the homeowner chooses to install solar panels.
It costs an estimated $500 to $1,000 to make a home solar-ready, but between $6,000 and $8,000 to actually install solar panels.
The Canadian Home Builders Association-Central Interior and the city’s building department opposed the regulation that lived and died in the span of week.
In a letter to council, the CHBA-CI said it instead preferred education and encouragement for homeowners.
The association also expressed concern about the extra costs in buying a home during a time of economic uncertainty.