The Sackville connection: Building and sustaining a healthy rural New Brunswick

Written by Brian Beaton on July 9, 2019

Mount Allison University student Catherine Priemer, with EOS Eco-Energy, at the Sustainable Home show climate strike booth in Sackville on July 6, 2019. Photo by Brian Beaton.

A Net-Zero home produces as much power as it consumes. A Passive Home is super-insulated and uses less power but does not necessarily produce power. At the Sustainable Home Show in Sackville, NB on July 6, visitors learned from experts about some of the different options available to homeowners in the province to make their living spaces more sustainable.

The EOS Eco-Energy and Énergie renouvelable de Beausejour Renewable Energy Co-op Ltd. teams in Sackville hosted the first of what they are hoping will be an annual Sustainable Home Show at the local Tantramar Civic Centre.

The home show entrance was lined with an information display about the work of the team at EOS Eco-Energy. Their programs and services highlight the level of engagement and progressive desires of a community well-served by this not-for-profit organization. The displays included one by the Sackville youth supporting the local Student Strikes for the Climate, reminding all the visitors about importance of taking action to create a sustainable environment for everyone’s future.

The impressive exhibition of innovators, pioneers, entrepreneurs, community groups, organizers and others, all shared a common desire: to create a healthy and sustainable environment for themselves and their communities.

Along with the creative displays, the event included a full schedule of presentations by knowledgeable local experts, sharing their information, experiences and wisdom. These sessions, held in the room adjacent to the exhibits, provided the opportunity to become more comfortable with the language and the issues everyone in rural New Brunswick is experiencing as they consider investments in their homes and communities.

In his presentation ‘Solar Energy and Bulk Purchase,’ Fundy Solar owner Woody Thompson said he will do the math for you to determine how many solar panels are required to make your home a net-zero home. He will even write the application to NB Power to get your power meter converted to regulate how much energy is being produced by your solar panels and how much energy is being used from the grid. Come March 30 of each year, you will get a summary statement stating how much power you are paying for from NB Power. If all the calculations and the weather behave properly, that dollar figure is supposed to be ZERO.

Eric Tusz-King’s presentation ‘Investing in and Financing Renewable Energy’ introduced the audience to a local innovative investment opportunity for New Brunswickers. The Beauséjour Renewable Energy Co-operative Ltd. is selling membership shares to offer New Brunswick residents the opportunity to invest in local renewable energy projects (minimum of $1,000 per share). Tusz-King explained how the coop was formed to assist local and regional projects transition to the use of renewable energy options. “It will provide an avenue for local investment (and return on investment), local jobs, and contribute to the sustainability and resiliency of the local community,” he explained.

 Other presentation sessions included:

  • Starter Guide to a Sustainable Home in Atlantic Canada by Ashley Abernethy, RISE
  • Water Quality by Kelli-Nicole Croucher, EOS Eco-Energy
  • Flood Risk Reduction at Home by Amanda Marlin, EOS Eco-Energy
  • NB Power Home Energy Programs by Jo Gagnon-Levesque, NB Power

For those curious to learn more about e-bikes, solar power, off-grid living, heat pumps, waste reduction, flood prevention, electric vehicles, local water quality and so much more, a slow walk with stops at the different tables would have taken visitors hours to complete with the amount of information available from everyone sharing their work. The list of vendors and displays was extensive on the events information page with businesses from across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The buzz throughout the hall, the conversations at the various displays, the questions being asked, the wealth of information available all point to a desire for a bright and healthy future for everyone across New Brunswick. Now the challenge will be to replicate this exciting experience in every rural centre across the province and especially in the legislature. The politicians will likely continue to hear from climate action advocate Megan Mitton, the local MLA who spent most of the morning with her family visiting everyone at the Sackville event and smiling with pride at what her rural community is doing to address the climate emergency we all face.

Brian Beaton is researching rural broadband infrastructure for the RAVEN project, as a doctoral candidate at UNB. He is the calendar coordinator for the NB Media Co-op.

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