WESTPORT – Westport is now home to Canada's first Net Zero Energy Ready neighbourhood.
Officials this week welcomed the new Watercolour Westport neighbourhood, the first phase of which is under construction, off Concession Street and Bedford Street, minutes away from the centre of Westport.
After meeting with developer Stephen Rolston, founder of Land Ark, years before Watercolour Westport came to be, Mayor Robin Jones said she saw him fall in love with the idea of the village.
Rolston said he fell in love with Westport because of the quality of life it has to offer, and the all-around sense of community.
"When he learned more about a walkable, livable village he became interested in this property," she added. "We were very much on board."
"As the sign says, Watercolour Westport Net Zero Energy Ready Community, which ultimately saves money, saves energy and the environment," Local MPP Steve Clark said Thursday at a media event.
"It's a win-win for all Ontarians."
Watercolour calls itself a community that understands environmental stewardship and includes traditional neighbourhood designs.
"If real estate has one word: Location, location, location," said Rolston. "The one word that is important for traditional neighbourhood design community is: Walkable, walkable, and walkable, because that is what a smart growth neighbourhood is."
"We want to be available and accessible for all ages and stages of society," added Rolston.
In the coming phases of the development there will be townhomes coming and other single family homes in the next year.
Rolston said the houses have super insulation, a super tight building envelope and super ventilation, which helps the house produce as much energy as it consumes every year, while a normal home is built to the minimum energy level that the house must achieve.
"They're ready for solar power but just as they are they'll save the average consumer 50, as much as 80 per cent of their energy costs," said Rolston.
"I'm very comfortable when he (Rolston) says: 'I'm here, I'm building in the village, it's not about the homes, it's enhancing the village.' I believe it," said Jones.
Westport has struggled with its wastewater system over the years, and at one point it was sending effluent to Smiths Falls and Brockville.
"What that means is we were really eating up our debt capacity, so the only other way that resolves that is through growth," said Jones.
After the old wastewater system stopped working, the village put in place a new, greener system which reduced the inflow and infiltration significantly. With the new capacity, the Westport net zero homes will be able to finish the section of houses under the capacity that was found.
"To move forward in the phases will take some engineering and collaboration with town hall and the developer," said Jones, who adds that discussion is already on the table.
"This village has not had to plan for the subdivision in the past," said Jones, adding village officials have been working alongside a developer who is pointing them in the right direction and answers their questions.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times