Mayor urges Castlegar residents to join Earth Hour Challenge

Castlegar residents have been invited to take the Earth Hour Challenge.

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and councillors Dan Rye and Russ Hearne show off the city's new Earth Hour pledge t-shirts. Earth hour starts at 8:30 p.m. on March 31. Residents can sign up online at www.fortisbc.com to take the pledge.

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and councillors Dan Rye and Russ Hearne show off the city's new Earth Hour pledge t-shirts. Earth hour starts at 8:30 p.m. on March 31. Residents can sign up online at www.fortisbc.com to take the pledge.

Castlegar residents have been invited to take the Earth Hour Challenge. Participants are asked to make the pledge to switch off all non-essential lights and electronics for one hour on Saturday, March 31 starting at 8:30 p.m.

Castlegar city council is firmly behind the initiative and hopes residents will get behind the challenge.

“It’s a great challenge to save power and all that,” said Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff. “We’re asking you to do that for an hour. The challenge is out to everyone.”

The Earth Hour Challenge is a global symbolic climate change initiative that started in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one hour. It’s expected that hundreds of millions of people from more than 135 countries and territories will turn their lights off for Earth Hour.

Castlegar is entered in the FortisBC challenge against towns and cities throughout the West Kootenay/South Okanagan. If Castlegar ended up winning, Habitat for Humanity would receive $5,000 worth of energy efficient upgrades.

The community with the highest participation rate wins the prize. So far Salmo leads the pack with a 40.47 per cent participation rate, while Kaslo and Crawford Bay are close behind with 33.26 per cent. Castlegar is far behind at 1.2 per cent, narrowly beating out Nelson at 0.95 per cent. Trail is at 0.47 per cent.

To sign up for the community challenge, go to www.fortisbc.com/electricity and click on the Earth Hour Challenge link.

Chernoff hopes Castlegar residents won’t just conserve power for Earth Hour but beyond that as well.

“Really, the goal here is to see what you do for that hour. But it’s not just that, it’s what you do all year round,” said Chernoff. “Conserving power is the key. It’s a real benefit, whether you conserve power, or conserve water. See what you can do for the hour and then maybe go to the next hour, or next day, or next month.”

Chernoff said by conserving power, residents can really see a savings in their energy bill.

“Everybody is looking at how they can save a buck,” he said. “By conserving things like power. Maybe not do the dish washer or laundry when it’s not full. Turn off the lights, turn down the heat. If you can do it for that hour, you can probably do it for longer. It’s not difficult. You can have fun with it.”