New elders’ centre (l) and fire pit at the Ashcroft Indian Band. Both the elders’ centre and the Band office (r) have new solar arrays. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Solar power array promises energy savings for Ashcroft Band

Solar arrays are now in place on roofs of elders’ residence, band office

The Ashcroft Indian Band’s new elders’ centre — a six-unit senior’s residence located near the band office — will benefit from clean, renewable energy now that an 18-kilowatt solar array has been installed on the building’s roof. The project was one of seven clean energy projects in First Nations, northern, and rural communities that received funding through the Community Energy Leadership Program (CELP).

The Band received $18,000 toward the $55,000 project from CELP, and it is estimated that the cost savings will be about $2,775 a year. That figure will likely increase, as there were enough panels left over to construct a solar array on the roof of the band office as well. Both projects are now complete.

Band Administrator Jodene Blain says that they’re already seeing big savings from the project. The Band also received funding from the New Relationship Trust, and Blain says they would like to look at getting more solar projects. “There are so many benefits, and it’s clean energy.”

The elders’ residence is now finished, but the units are not yet occupied. “We’ve been keeping them for isolation units in case of an emergency,” explains Blain. “We’d love to have people in right away, but because of COVID-19 we’re holding back in case the units are needed.”

The six units — each with a living/dining room, full kitchen with appliances, bedroom, bathroom with walk-in shower unit, and washer/dryer — will be available for anyone looking for seniors’ accommodation. “We’re opening them up to anyone,” says Blain. “They’re nice suites for one or two people.”

Landscaping has been completed around the building, as has the fire pit/outdoor gathering area behind it. The nearby roundhouse has also been completed, and opened just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so has not seen much use up until now.

The new concession stand/washroom and shower facility across Cornwall Road from the band office is also complete. The building will be able to be used during events at the nearby softball diamonds, and will also serve the campground that will be constructed on the west side of the building.

“We plan to start work on the site by the end of August,” says Blain of the long-awaited project. “There will be 10 pull-through sites with water and electricity, as well as tent sites.”

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