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Community bridges

by Nicole Bogdanovic
September 16, 2016

Energy efficiency

Kelly Paley, support services coordinator, The Bridge Youth & Family Services.​​

"For us, it’s like winning the lottery." 

For the Bridge Youth & Family Services, a non-profit organization in Kelowna, having their two Rutland facilities chosen as this year's Residential Energy Efficiency Works - REnEW for short - project means more funds are available for their counselling and addiction services and their facilities will be more accessible and comfortable for their clients.

"We kept waiting for the other shoe to drop -- where's the catch? What's our commitment? Finding out it was all included, with no strings attached, was so appreciated," said Kelly Paley, support services coordinator, the Bridge.

The REnEW program is designed to give people who have faced barriers to employment the skills and safety certifications needed for entry-level construction positions. Each year, a new group of REnEW participants complete a project for a local non-profit as a way of getting hands-on trades training and learning about energy-efficient retrofits.​

This year's 10 participants have worked under the direction of Ron Brewer, owner, UK Trades, to build an accessibility ramp and deck for the Bridge's front entrance. They have also replaced several windows, doors, faucets, shower heads to improve air tightness and energy efficiency. According to Brewer, the approximate value of the work is $30 to 40 thousand.

"Having these projects completed through the REnEW program means not having to reach into our reserve funds or capital budget for these improvements, which frees up funds for other high-priority projects and programs," said Paley.

Paley applied to be the site of this year's project early this spring. "Our goal is to make our facilities comfortable and inviting, so people feel welcome. The wheelchair ramp and larger deck will help make our main entrance more accessible for strollers as well as people with limited ability."

"The window in our family drop-in area freezes shut in the winter. Our second floor offices are hard to cool in the summer and heat in the winter, so replacing the large single-pane window with one that is energy-efficient means a more comfortable space for us."

For some REnEW program participants, this project goes beyond learning new skills — participants who have used the services at the Bridge on their path to wellness are pleased to have the opportunity to give back.

The REnEW program is funded by FortisBC and the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines and delivered in partnership through the John Howard Society of The Central and South Okanagan and UK Trades​. To date, the REnEW program has helped close to 130 men and women find work in construction or spur the confidence needed to pursue further education.​

The fro​​nt entra​nce to the Bridge will be more accessible and inviting with a wheelchair ramp and small deck.


Upgrades to energy-efficient windows will help eliminate drafts and make the space more comfortable
for families.



The large, inefficient second floor window made the administration area difficult and costly to keep cool
in the summer.