Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Kejimkujik National Park is getting a little greener.
The federal government has announced plans to invest $589,400 toward the installation of an array of solar panels to cut down greenhouse gas emissions at the park.
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and MP for South Shore-St. Margarets, made the funding announcement March 9 on behalf of Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister responsible for Parks Canada and the Honourable Yves-Duclos, president of the Treasury Board.
The investment is coming through the Greening Government Fund to support the installation of about 250 solar panels that will produce 100 kW of energy – enough to reduce the park's greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 per cent. This will cover the electricity used by the campers in the park.
"We're really excited about this. The installation of the large solar array at Kejimkujik is going to enable us to basically offer a carbon-neutral camping experience," Kejimkujik's site manager, Jonathan Sheppard, told LighthouseNOW. "There will be a real link for campers who are in a site using electricity to really know that the energy is coming from a green source."
Over the lifetime of the project, there will be a cumulative reduction of about 3,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which is roughly equal to taking 1,035 cars off the road for one year.
Tender documents currently are being developed for the project. Construction is expected to begin this summer and to be completed by the summer of 2022.
The solar array will be located near the front of the park in the Drumlin Hills at the site formerly occupied by an Environment Canada weather station.
"This is a big step in terms of the Government of Canada looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Sheppard. "Across Canada, there's a target to get to net zero gas emissions by 2050. This project gives us a chance to really reduce some of our greenhouse gas emissions from our campground. This also will be a demonstration site and an example of environmental leadership."
The announcement comes on the heels of a further $10 million investment in the park by Ottawa.
The investment translated into the first large refurbishment of the park since it opened 50 years ago. Work included 10 new gender-neutral and fully accessible washroom and shower facilities, a new water treatment facility, upgraded power and sewer utilities, five new roofed Oasis accommodation facilities and a new shared-use trail system that has added six kilometres of new trails.
"The investment is really important in terms of supporting sustainable tourism and creating jobs," said Sheppard.