by KORIE MARSHALL
It might be cold outside, but a workshop planned for early February in Valemount aims to attract some ideas and businesses that can use some heat.
The Valemount Community Forest (VCF) and the Village of Valemount are partnering to host a workshop on Friday afternoon, Feb. 12th and Saturday Feb. 13th at the Best Western. The workshop is aimed at exploring the potential for developing direct-use applications of geothermal heat, and seeing if Valemount could be a viable option for some of these businesses.
“There are lots of possibly industries that may be interested in setting up next to a geothermal heat source,” says Craig Pryor, manager of VCF. Industries such as greenhouses, fish farms, mushroom growing, and dry kilns for lumber are just a few potential examples of businesses that could benefit from plentiful and inexpensive heat, says Pryor, if we can tap into a proven resource beneath our feet.
Recent work completed around Valemount including VCF’s new industrial park in Cedarside shows there is heat under the ground that can potentially be harnessed, says Pryor.
“We are interested in economic development so we see a potential fit here,” he says. “We also benefit in that we are well suited to secure grants and other sorts of funding to help in the very expensive first step which is to drill for hot water.”
But there are still lots of questions to see if the Valemount area is economically viable for any of these industries, says Pryor.
“We hope that the upcoming workshop can answer some of our questions to allow us to make informed decisions.”
The workshop includes presentations on Friday afternoon and evening from keynote speakers Bernie Karl of Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska; Toni Boyd of the Geo-Heat Centre at Klamath Falls, Oregon; Alison Thompson, Chair of Canadian Geothermal Energy Association; and Craig Dunn of Borealis Geopower. Saturday morning includes a presentation from Mike Sato of Cayley Hot Springs and panel and round table discussions including a preliminary site analysis of the Valemount Industrial Park.
The workshop is funded through support from the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition (SIBAC), and is free for area residents. Register online at http://valemount.ca/registration-geo-workshop.