Nova Scotia

Construction to start this fall on solar gardens for 3 N.S. towns

The Nova Scotia towns of Antigonish, Berwick and Mahone Bay will each see work on planned solar gardens start in the fall after provincial funding was announced Thursday.

The towns of Antigonish, Berwick and Mahone Bay hope to be Canada's first net-zero emissions communities

The announcement of $7.5 million in provincial funding for solar gardens was made at an event in Antigonish, N.S., on Thursday. (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

Three Nova Scotia towns are one step closer to their goal of becoming the first communities in Canada to achieve net-zero emissions.

Premier Iain Rankin announced $7.5 million in funding for the construction of solar gardens in Antigonish, Berwick and Mahone Bay.

A solar garden allows members of a community to buy panels or shares of the local utility company, effectively making the residents part owners of the company.

The towns, which all own power plants, had announced their plan for solar gardens in 2019.

The federal government had already committed $8.9 million toward the project and the towns will spend $6 million.

Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said she hopes the towns can be a blueprint for the rest of Canada. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Speaking at the announcement in Antigonish, Mayor Laurie Boucher said the towns want to help Nova Scotia and Canada meet the federal government's 2050 goal of net-zero emissions. 

"We want to be able to be a blueprint for other municipalities to be able to do this," she said.

"So even though other municipalities don't have their own electric utility, there are ways to do it."

Antigonish will be constructing its 2.1 megawatt solar garden on a repurposed landfill, which is expected to provide 16 per cent of the town's electricity requirements.

Rankin said the funding would make the residents of Antigonish, Mahone Bay and Berwick "big players in Nova Scotia's clean energy future."

"Berwick will own their own solar, wind, hydro and battery storage, which is the future of what our grid should look like in Nova Scotia — and Mahone Bay will get 16 per cent of [its] electricity needs as part of their plan to net-zero."

The Antigonish solar garden will be constructed on a repurposed landfill. (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

The 4.8 megawatt facility in Berwick is expected to provide 15 per cent of the town's electricity needs.

The entire project will be managed by the Alternative Resource Energy Authority, which was founded by Antigonish, Berwick and Mahone Bay in 2014 to reduce their energy costs and environmental impact.

Boucher said the projects will start in the fall and are expected to be completed by this time next year.

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Vernon Ramesar

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Vernon Ramesar is a reporter and video and radio journalist originally based in Trinidad. He now lives in Halifax.

With files from Jack Julian

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