The controversy over what would have been Vancouver’s first backyard wind turbine has cooled, after the application was withdrawn in late June.
Bruce Arnold had vowed to fight plans to erect a 10-metre turbine behind a home being built two doors down from his on West 22nd Avenue. He just learned, however, the application from Odenza Homes was cancelled.
“Evidently the house got the sold and the person who bought it was not interested. So, they decided to withdraw the application. Even if he had a lot of money, he wasn’t figuring 100 years to pay off the bills was worth it,” Arnold said, noting the $25,000 cost for the turbine and annual maintenance fee of about $300 compared to a yearly cost-savings of $250.
As part of its push for greener building practices, Vancouver city council established bylaws to encourage the use of new technologies in home construction. The rules implemented in 2009 allow for roof-mounted solar panels and so-called micro turbines to generate electricity.
In this case, however, Arnold said the city bent the rules to allow for a turbine in the yard instead of one on the roof.
Jason Hammond, general manager for Odenza Homes, confirmed his company presented the city with two options – a turbine next to the house or one going through the eave of the garage’s roof.
He added the city, which he said lacks clear guidelines on turbines, only approved plans for the garage-adjacent turbine because the other option encroached on the home’s side yard.
The neighbours’ backlash has left Hammond disappointed that people living in a “green city” aren’t willing to make certain allowances when it comes to protecting the environment.
“The attitude was, ‘We’re all for use of alternative energy, but not in our backyard,’” he said.
Vancouver Coun. Adriane Carr admitted there are not many clearly defined building codes for installing green technologies, however, people will have to get used to more forms of renewable energy as fossil fuels deplete.
“But everybody is living in close proximity to each other in the city, so I think (wind power) is a difficult one.”
Odenza Homes president Jag Hundal said his company would not be deterred by one setback and he hopes to offer turbines in other residential neighbourhoods in the future.
He said the prices for green technologies would never go down if businesses like his didn’t push the envelope when it comes to renewable energy.
“Not everybody gets it right the first time, so you need to make a few mistakes along the way in order to find out what the best solution is.”
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