City council passed an amendment during a bare-bones council, that would require energy evaluations and a sticker affixed to new homes, should the existing EnerGuide rules be axed in a final council vote on June 25.
The amendment, put forward by Coun. Niels Konge, passed during a council meeting on May 28, during which time a number of councillors were away, including the chair of the city’s community energy planning committee (CEP).
Only five councillors were present – the minimum required to pass a vote.
City councillor Niels Konge denies any conflict of interest over the passing of the amendment, stating that his role as a builder is a “community of interest.”
“Because I am a builder and this bylaw affects the building community and not specifically my company, it’s not a conflict of interest,” said Konge, adding that any cost benefits would likely be passed on to homeowners.
The original recommendation to remove EnerGuide from the bylaw came down from administration.
One of the councillors missing from the vote was Shauna Morgan, chair of the city’s community energy planning committee (CEP) and a vocal proponent of the city’s EnerGuide rules that were put in place to make new homes more energy-efficient.
The EnerGuide rules will inevitably be phased out, but the city need to formulate a suitable replacement before it is repealed, said Morgan.
Konge, a prominent home builder in the city with his construction company Konge Construction, argued the EnerGuide rules are unenforceable and that not all builders in the city are following the rules.
Konge is one of the city’s commercial builders that uses EGNH-80.
The rules require new homes to be built to an energy efficiency rating of 80. When the standards were passed by council in 2008 builders complained the higher rating would drive up construction costs.
Konge was on the committee that instituted EGNH-80 in 2010, and his business
The amendment, moved by Coun. Konge would require a sticker be posted on new buildings with an energy evaluation result. It does not hold them to a specific standard.
The energy planning committee had recommended maintaining the current EnerGuide rules until the city transitions to equivalent or better rules under new federal guidelines.
“I shared those views with the rest of council but those views seem to have been ignored,” said Morgan, adding that the EnerGuide issue had been repeatedly deferred because councillors needed additional information.
The amendment adds to a bylaw that would axe old EnerGuide rules in advance of a new rating system handed down by NRCAN, which evaluates homes based on square footage.
When asked whether Konge having a hand in energy efficiency rules is a conflict of interest, Morgan responded, “That’s a great question to ask Niels Konge.”
Konge denied being in conflict when reached for comment Tuesday.
Third reading June 25
The bylaw will go to third reading on June 25, where it can be opened for debate by a resolution of council.
With Coun. Morgan on vacation, Coun. Linda Bussey dropping out during a conference call and Mayor Mark Heyck away, Bell opened the motion for debate, and Konge’s amendment on evaluations ultimately passed.
Coun. Julian Morse proposed deferring the debate for a future meeting when Morgan could be present. No other councillors supported Morse’s proposal, and Alty was unable to vote as chair of the meeting.
Konge and Bell said during the meeting that building regulations are in limbo while the city transitions to new federal guidelines and thus the urgency to repeal Energuide rules.
When asked about the amendment passing in her absence, Morgan said, it was “disappointing.”
“I think it was clear the councillors present who argued for this motion were clear when they stated they were doing this for the greater good of the building community,” said Morgan.
When asked whether passing the amendment without Morgan present is an issue, Bell said he expected Morgan to phone in while on vacation.
“I expected her to be there and I expected her to be calling in. She has her opportunity to do that on June 25th. I look forward to hearing her position,” said Bell.