Welcome to the September edition of the UrbanWorkbench Newsletter.

We’ve been very busy here in Castlegar during the months of July, August and September, plenty of visitors, lots of work, and lots of sunshine. Some exciting camping and touting around the region, with trips to Moyie Lake, BC and Spokane, Washington over a couple of weekends.

Our Sustainable Home


Our garden has exceeded our expectations considering that it’s our first year in Castlegar, an approximate tally of our harvest was:

  • Peaches – 50
  • Apples – 100
  • Rhubarb – 5 stalks
  • Asparagus – 10 heads
  • Garlic – 20 cloves
  • Wild Onions – 15
  • Carrots – 10 pounds
  • Potatoes – 5 pounds
  • Pumpkin Squash – 10 small
  • Cherry Tomatoes – 100
  • Roma Tomatoes – 30
  • Green Pepper – 6
  • Zucchini – 1
  • Mystery Melon – 1
  • Black Berries – 40
  • Raspberries – 2
  • Beans – 20
  • Snow Peas – 20
  • This fall we are aiming to prepare more beds for further produce next summer, at the moment I’m reading the book Food not lawns, which is an excellent resource for anyone motivated to grow their own food and see transformation in their communities.

    P9030024 I’m in the middle of a garden project to build a formal compost structure in the backyard, currently there is a fenced off area that has an uncontrolled compost heap. I have cleared an area and started building a three bay pallet compost structure, similar to the one at this webpage.

    Energy Efficiency

    Our house has two skylights, one in the kitchen facing south and one in the front entrance hallway facing west. The one in the kitchen was really heating up the kitchen area over the summer, and both of them were showing potential to lose a lot of heat from the house in winter. After researching options, I purchased and installed some skylight shades from symphonyshades.com. These were easy to install and have already shown their ability to reduce heat from outside.

    There are still many rooms in the house that have less than efficient window coverings, this will probably be a gradual process for us, at least all the windows are reasonably new.

    Engineering and Development

    We have been working hard on several large projects in Rossland, Trail and Castlegar, and we are by no means the only ones that are busy. In Castlegar alone, construction progress is being made on two large subdivisions at the south end of town, Twin Rivers Estates and Grandview Heights. Up in Rossland, Redstone Golf Course has almost completed the intersection off Highway 22, which will provide excellent access for the Phase 1 subdivision, the golf course and all future stages being developed.

    1404776837_725c3f6d67_m silverlode_iconRed Mountain has installed a new Quad chair to service beginner and intermediate areas. This will speed up access to the lower hill and reduce wait times.

    New lots and condos have been developed in the Ski Resort precinct, which will change traffic patterns over the winter, and it looks like there may be reduced visitor parking, on the hill, but hopefully I’m wrong on that count.

    Water in Castlegar

    Water has been on the public agenda in Castlegar over the summer with council proposing, first Universal Water Metering, then Voluntary Metering, then we find out that if the city doesn’t reduce it’s water consumption drastically, the Province will not support and provide funding for a new UV filtration plant for the water supply, that Interior Health has determined necessary for security of safe supply. My proposed solution to this problem is to toughen up water restrictions on sprinklers during the peak summer months. Currently homes can water 5-11am and pm every second day. MY suggestion is that this is reduced to once a day, not twice. If this were enforced, and fines were increased for bylaw infringments, upto a third of the current summer consumption could be cut.

    Other options are providing rebates for low flow showerheads, dual flush toilets and leak detection inspections.

    Some other issues have recently arisen with a local resident Raymond Koehler asking council to review and explain the current agreement of water supply with Celgar, the local pulp mill. As it stands, the city has no current agreement with Celgar, the previous one having expired without renewal some years ago during a period of receivership with the owners at the time. Following the last council meeting, where councillors and staff discussed the importance of getting the draft agreement signed and in place, I explained my caution to several councillors:

    • Having our water supply source (pumps) operated by a private company is not ideal
    • Does the City of Castlegar have the right to operate and maintain the pumps in any event, ie receivership, change of ownership?
    • Should water supply be an issue, does the City have precedence over the distribution of water to its citizens?

    Blogging and Photos

    There has been so much great writing out there on sustainability and urban planning over the past couple of months that I haven’t had a chance to comment on, its been tough to keep up along with work, the house and garden and study for my Professional Practice Exam next month.

    I just received my order of Moo Cards this week, so now I’ll be handing these out too!

    Most of my photos are getting uploaded onto Zooomr. I’ve blogged about this great service before, most people know about Flickr, but Zooomr is even better! If you want to see all of my photos get yourself an account and send me an email with your profile page URL, and I’ll add you as a friend.

    My favorite articles on UrbanWorkbench over the past couple of months have been:

    Open Letter to Council – Water Meter Bylaw

    Leadership – The Role of Local Government

    Being a Small Town Engineer

    Locally Safeway?

    18 Great Presents for Bloggers

    If you’ve got any questions or suggestions for me, drop me an email or leave one on the contact page. I’d also like to thank all our site sponsors for their support and trust in our content for their advertisments.

    Published by Mike Thomas

    Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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