The City of New Westminster and the regional governing body for Metro Vancouver are collaborating on a project they say will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of a developing area of ​​the city.

The proposed Sapperton District Energy System would recover heat from the sewer system and channel it through a network of pipes to provide heat and hot water for homes and businesses near the Sapperton and Braid SkyTrain Stations.

Metro Vancouver is committing up to $18 million in funding for the project, and the city council has begun the process of changing its bylaws to enable the implementation of the system, according to a joint news release issued Thursday.

“Further funding from other orders of government is being sought to allow the project to proceed,” the statement reads. “The city and Fraser Health are also working to confirm participation of Royal Columbian Hospital as the major user of the new system.”

The City of Vancouver implemented the first large-scale, raw sewage waste heat recovery system in North America in 2010, incorporating the system into the Olympic Village for the 2010 games and expanding it to serve surrounding areas over time.

Vancouver’s system currently provides heat and hot water to more than six million square feet of building space in Southeast False Creek and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The Vancouver project’s website indicates that it avoided approximately 3,500 tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions in 2017.

Metro Vancouver and New Westminster estimate that their Sapperton project would prevent 8,600 tonnes of emissions annually.

That’s the equivalent of the emissions of 2,635 passenger vehicles, according to Natural Resources Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalences Calculator.

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“The Sapperton district energy project will provide its users with secure and affordable energy to meet future needs, while also addressing climate change,” said New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté, in the release.

“Sewer heat recovery allows us to tap into a previously unutilized renewable energy source, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We’re pleased to be partnering with Metro Vancouver to move this project forward.”

Sav Dhaliwal, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors, had similar comments, saying the regional body is “committed to fighting climate change by leveraging our sewer infrastructure to support sustainable district energy projects.”

Metro Vancouver is “actively exploring future opportunities” for similar projects around the region, according to the release.

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