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Who isn’t looking to reduce the hydro consumption required to heat and cool their home?

So it was with the residents of a Bear Mountain home who had been looking for alternatives for some time. They had already implemented every conceivable adjustment recommended by hydro experts to reduce their bill. Nothing worked. Year over year, the rising cost of hydro outstripped any energy efficiencies they adopted. They wanted a viable, permanent solution.

Colyn Strong, President and Founder of Shift Energy Group, saw the value of energy efficiencies first hand, during the years he managed energy efficiency projects in the public sector and later when he facilitated public sector energy projects with engineers and contractors.

His curiosity encouraged him to assess the viability of solar as a business division back in 2014 when only a few early adopters were willing to take the leap.

“Times have changed since then. It’s still not a mature, mainstream market,” says Strong, “but it’s changing fast. More and more, solar is becoming economically viable as an alternative energy solution for home owners and organizations.”

It wasn’t that long ago that technological innovation was mostly associated with the computer industry. A steady stream of electronic devices and digital services—that improve so quickly, they become obsolete in a few years—continue to impact our lives in ways we never imagined a few decades ago.

Today, with climate change ever-present, the need for fundamental new discoveries across a network of diverse industries has never been greater. Innovation today is less about getting a competitive silo advantage and more about experimenting and researching possibilities in collaboration with others; finding ways to re-imagine aspects of our economy so we can continue to prosper with the lowest possible environmental impact. The shift underway will be explosive; unlike anything we’ve experienced since electricity and the internal combustion engine took center stage early in the 20th century.

There’s a lot of buzz around food technology these days. How do we create food systems that meet the needs of our changing world and what role does technology play? How can B.C. harness new technologies and innovations to produce more food, jobs and prosperity, while reducing waste?

It’s attracting a lot of research and investment.

I spoke to B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture and Saanich South MLA Lana Popham for an update about some ground-breaking agri-initiatives at work in our province. She’s been travelling B.C. to learn about agriculture issues for a decade now and what she is seeing is inspiring: small farms all over the province doing a lot of amazing things—and creating “a renaissance of experimentation around food culture and food processing.”

Here are a few examples of B.C. initiatives underway she told me about that are levelling the playing field for small farmers and food entrepreneurs:

If you have lived in the West Shore long enough, you probably already know that Sooke School District #62 is one of the fastest-growing and most progressive school districts in B.C. It currently has over 11,000 students in a district that extends all the way up to Port Renfrew.

For committed people like Ravi Parmar, School Board Chair, and one of 7 trustees for Sooke School District #62, its oversight is a huge responsibility—far bigger than most people realize.

“As trustees, as elected politicians, we are responsible for a lot,” says Parmar. “The budget for the entire province is a record $2.7 billion this year. It will be used for capital investments for new schools, expansions, seismic upgrades and land purchases for future schools. Our operating budget is $150M for a staff of 1,600 people.”

Why pay in cash when you can pay in kind? For some businesses, bartering can be a useful way to pay for operational expenses. If they have downtime in a services-based business or excess inventory in the warehouse, barter can be used to convert them into extra revenue in exchange for other services ranging from marketing to photography. Barterpay® President, Doug Robb and Partner, Chris Bowes explain how it works.

For the next 5 years, many in-demand jobs in BC (and the rest of Canada) are ones that offer great earning opportunities. As a result, now is an excellent time for younger Canadians to explore new career paths. I’ve selected career areas that are in especially high demand in BC, have a high number of expected job openings and an on-going shortage of qualified workers to fill them.

The newly-opened Sherman Jen Building houses the Centre for Environmental Science and International Partnership at Royal Roads University [RRU]. The Centre is pushing the boundaries of what a modern 21st century-equipped facility can offer students who want to develop rewarding careers in environmental science. State-of-the-art laboratories equipped to meet the needs of environmental scientists and digitally-integrated teaching spaces—including one outdoor classroom—will facilitate research and learning that will impact communities not only in BC, but throughout Canada.

As our West Shore community grows, the requirements of Fire Fighting services will grow, too. So, the municipal fire chiefs are working very diligently together to find ways for greater efficiency in a cost effective manner to keep our families safe. Every fire department has something to offer.

New technologies and innovative ways to think about fire and its behaviour are making a real difference in the way firefighters work in Canadian forests. Here are a few of those new firefighting technologies, some of which are still being tested:

• ‘Safeguard’ is a continuous water curtain technology system that uses 120 water sprinkler cannons — some of which can pump out up to 1,250 gallons of water per minute — to create a more than 180-metre-wide water curtain between the wildfire and a town. Fort St. James is testing this system.

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