The new Aqamnik Education Centre will have a state-of-the-art biomass energy heating system, thanks to federal funding announced Monday.
"I am delighted to announce Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is contributing $1.2 million to 16 eco-energy projects in First Nations communities in B.C.," said Minister John Duncan.
He made the province-wide announcement while visiting ?aq'am Community (St. Mary's Band) Monday.
"Our government is investing in renewable energy projects that will improve the social and economic lives of the B.C. First Nations involved," said Minister Duncan.
"These projects will not only support the First Nations in their effort to develop clean energy infrastructure for their communities, they will lead to greater energy self-sufficiency and economic development opportunities."
The ministry is sending $98,000 to the ?aq'am Community to install a biomass energy heating system.
'Biomass' is a term used to describe any sort of plant matter or animal wastes, used to extract stored energy. The facility will significantly reduce heating costs for the community.
The system will be used in the new education centre, opening in September, and the administration building will be retrofitted to use the biomass heat. ?aq'am plans to test the new system in the school and then expand it to include other community buildings.
"This investment will help the community significantly reduce its heating costs," said Duncan. "There is a lot of biomass around here so it is a great opportunity to go away from fossil fuels."
Chief Cheryl Casimer said the biomass project will help the community lower its carbon footprint significantly.
"I am pleased and honoured to be the recipient of these funds," said Chief Casimer. "Thank you for making an important investment in bio energy, in clean energy and in our community."
The biomass project will save 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 25 years, Chief Casimer continued.
"Biomass is the most feasible 'clean energy' option with higher returns on investment than solar electric and greater operational feasibility than geothermal, wind and micro-hydro for our community," she said.
The federal funding will give $150,000 to a hydro project for the Sts'ailes (Chehalis) Band, $113,813 for a run-of-river hydro project on the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, and $25,000 to the Lower Kootenay Indian Band to assess alternative clean energy options.