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LEADING THE WAY—Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff shows CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill the ruins of the old city hall after leading a CUPE delegation through the new, environmentally sound city hall building. United Steelworkers District 3 president Steve Hunt (blue jacket) can be seen on Chernoff’s left.
CASTLEGARCUPE BC president Barry O’Neill, resuming his provincial tour yesterday on investing in local economies, was visibly impressed during a morning tour of Castlegar’s new city hall building, which was constructed with local wood and uses a geothermal heating system.

This is truly the way of the future, and I can’t congratulate this city council enough for having the guts to think 25 years into the future, rather than just worrying about tomorrow,” O’Neill told Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff. “This facility is environmentally sustainable, locally produced and cost-effective. I’m just blown away by it.”

Geothermal heating is an “open well” system that pumps water through the ground and circulates it through the building before returning it to the ground. (The well water never touches the mechanical system as it is circulated through a double-walled heat exchanger—thus removing any risk of contaminating the groundwater.) The system cost $18,000 and will be earned back in three years, Mayor Chernoff told his visitors.

O’Neill was accompanied on the visit by United Steelworkers District 3 president Steve Hunt, CUPE BC general vice president (and Nelson civic workers president) Bev Lapointe, CUPE 2262 acting president Carrie Bishop and staff.

Following the stop at Castlegar city hall, the group drove to Nelson for a luncheon with local community leaders, media interviews and a public meeting where Hunt spoke about the forest industry and O’Neill delivered his presentation, “Investing in Our Communities: Local Solutions for B.C. Municipalities.”