A Centretown-area homeowner says a new condominium being built next to his house may make the solar panels he installed in his home useless.
Paul Couvrette lives near the corner of Gladstone Avenue and Kent Street, where a one-storey service centre is set to be knocked down to make way for a four-storey condo building.
The new condo, being built by Tega Developments Inc., is the exact type of urban intensification the City of Ottawa is looking for — but it hurts Couvrette's micro-solar investment, the likes of which are being encouraged by the provincial government.
Couvrette said the building would undoubtedly trim the winter light spilling into his specially designed sunroom, which he said cost over $10,000 to build.
"In here is a fan that sucks excess heat out of this room, because this room, believe it or not, in November, even though it's cold outside, generates excess heat," Couvrette said.
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Couvrette's concerns may be new in Ottawa, but similar issues have played out recently in Toronto.
"We've seen a number of cases," said Rob McMonagle, a senior advisor on green technology and energy for the City of Toronto.
"And I suspect as the solar deployment starts happening, we'll see more and more of that."
McMonagle said currently Canadian homeowners don't have a legal right to sunlight. He said homeowners considering investing in solar projects should consider whether they'll have the same light for 20 years.
"They should be looking at the height bylaws, and putting that into their calculations. Even the solar contractors aren't even looking at that at the present time," he said.
The province is aware of the potential clash between its recommendations, and the planning needs of cities. The Ontario government's solar task force recommended "right to light" legislation being written into the Ontario Energy Act in a 2008 report on solar energy, but that recommendation has not become law.
In the United States some states have right to light legislation, many passing laws about light as early as the 1970s, but the rules vary.
As construction moves forward outside Couvrette's house, he's left hoping enough rays of sun will make it through his windows when the condo is finished.