Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini

Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini

Kootenay communities battle in lights-out competition

The participant with the highest pledges in the FortisBC Earth Hour Challenge will receive bragging rights and $5,000

A global challenge that has households and businesses turning off lights for one hour to raise awareness on climate change could result in some much needed cash for one non-profit organization in the region.

Residents who pledge to switch off during Earth Hour from 8:30-9:30 p.m. March 31 will add to their community’s chance to win the FortisBC Earth Hour Challenge.

The community with the highest votes will receive bragging rights and $5,000 worth of energy-efficient upgrades for a non-profit of its choice.

Locally that includes Trail’s Family and Individual Resource (FAIR) Centre Society, the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (Miners’ Hall), the Beaver Valley Manor Society, the Salmo Public Library, Castlegar’s Habitat for Humanity and Nelson Cares Society.

“We are currently wasting money on utility costs and wasting valuable energy resources,” said Gail Lavery, FAIR executive director. “We have the ability to apply for grants to supplement projects, including energy-upgrading projects, but at this point do not have the money available for the in-house contribution that funders generally require.”

FAIR is looking to update its heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in its main three-story building, built in 1979. Located in the former School District 20 building in East Trail, this facility houses all of FAIR’s programs except for its pregnancy outreach and parenting programs, transition, second-stage housing and regional crises line.

Fruitvale and Montrose have joined forces in hopes of gaining a financial boost for a lighting upgrade for Beaver Valley Manor, which has been an affordable housing option for seniors living in the valley for about 40 years.

“Our rent is so low and we’re a non-profit so there isn’t a lot of funding to do a lot of upgrading,” explained Bev Piccolo, who is a director on the manor’s board.

Piccolo has had a soft spot for the home for a good portion of her life, as her parents were among those who started up the facility.

“I was there when they did the ribbon cutting,” she smiled. “When I retired I wanted to do something and I thought about it for a while and decided this was the place that I wanted to spend some time at and give back to the community.”

As of Thursday afternoon Salmo was in the lead with about 20 per cent of the vote out of the 17 participating communities.

Kay Hohn, chair of the Salmo Public Library board, said the money would help the village either update its lighting or replace doors and windows at the aging facility.

The challenge fits in nicely with Salmo’s push to expand and renovate the entire facility, a capital campaign started last spring for the library’s 50 years of service.

The library has already raised $30,000 for its $50,000 goal through fundraising initiatives and local contributions.

Those looking to support their community can make a pledge by visiting www.fortisbc.com/earthhour before 4:30 p.m. March 31.