Our story about solar-power generation takes a not-so-sunny turn
By Steven Sandor | July 28, 2021
There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees, for the maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas… ~ the late Neil Peart, Rush
In our June issue, we featured a story about how the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League had embraced solar power generation. In partnership with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and with the support of grants from various levels of government, a $64,000 project was completed to place solar cells on the roof of the Parkdale-Cromdale community hall.
But, earlier this summer, the residents of the area woke to the sight of new trees in the park, planted by the City of Edmonton as part of the Urban Tree Canopy Expansion Project. This initiative, part of Edmonton’s City Plan, calls for the planting of 6,000 trees throughout about 100 selected locations throughout the city over the next two years.
The solar-panel installer informed the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League that the trees, although small at the moment, were placed too close to the panels. The league was told that once the trees grow, they will block the sunlight that the panels are meant to harvest. In an email to the Community League, the installer said “what made this size of the solar array possible was the fact that there were no trees in this critical area. I would say they [the City] basically picked maybe the worst example of what not to do here.”
It’s been a source of frustration for the league.
“We called, we emailed, we called some more, and we have received only one email stating their [the City’s] design consultant is working on it,” stated Parkdale-Cromdale Community League president Kevin Wong in an email. “I really don’t understand why it takes so long to see the trees are obviously planted in the wrong locations, and there’s absolutely no consultation or conversation before the trees showed up.”
While Wong says the complaints over the trees have been met with minimal response, in response to queries from Edify, a statement was issued by the City.
“The City is in conversation with the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League president and is currently working to avoid impacting the solar panels. Our consultant is looking into options to relocate one tree that may impact the solar panels when it reaches full maturity to address this specific location. The City is committed to a greener future and that is why we are expanding the urban tree canopy across the city. We understand that solar panels will also contribute to a greener future so we are working together with the community league on a solution.
“Given the significant technical and site constraints for the tree planting, there was limited opportunity for the public to have a meaningful role in site selection.”