How low can they go? Five begin North Cowichan challenge

Five households in the Cowichan Valley are ready to square off in the first Community for Climate Household Challenge.

The challenge will measure who can save the most energy over the next five weeks in five categories, with each week focusing on one of the five areas. The Citizen will be along for the ride, checking in with the families as they progress through the competition.

At the official launch on Friday, the participants were named and paired with their mentors, who will guide them through the process and provide suggestions. The households are: Heather Taylor and James Tousignant of Chemainus, Tyrone, Alan, Emilia and Agnes Mills of the Somenos area, Naomi and Sean Battye and their four kids Bryson, Dalton, Victoria and Graeme, from Maple Bay, Sheila Jones from the Prevost area and Tamara Leigh and Franya Jedwab from Crofton with their fiveyear-old son Gabriel.

Mayor Jon Lefebure said it all stems from the municipality’s award-winning Climate Action Plan.

"It really tells us how we, both as a municipality or as a community can save energy and save the cost of energy," he said. "We created that plan with an economic lens because we unfortunately have some doubters about climate change and we wanted to create a plan that would make

sense to everyone, even if they had some reservations about climate change. The plan works for everyone because it saves people money on their energy costs, while they’re doing a good thing."

Families of different sizes, from different areas were deliberately chosen, Lefebure said. "We’ll learn a lot from that," he said.

Lefebure said he hopes other households in the municipality will follow the example of the five competing households.

While he’s not personally taking part in the challenge, Lefebure said he’s trying to walk the walk, having just installed an array of solar panels on his own home and having a clothes dryer ready to install in his backyard.

While he’s proud of the steps he’s taken and thinks solar energy is the wave of the future, alternative energy sources aren’t the only way to go green.

"The conservation side is even more important," he said.

Each of the participants gets a free energy audit, and the chance to win a year’s worth of food from Makaria and Tatlo farms.

Other sponsors of the challenge include Transition Cowichan, BC Hydro, City Green Solutions, and Viridian Energy Cooperative.