Kamloops council challenges Nanaimo to Earth Hour competition

NANAIMO – Losing mayor will have to don jersey from other city's hockey team.

Peter Milobar always did look good in Clipper orange.

Now the mayor of Kamloops, Milobar, who played for the Nanaimo Clippers in the 1989-90 season, could don a Clippers sweater once more after suggesting a friendly wager with Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan on whose city can save more energy during Earth Hour.

Milobar played for the Clippers under current Nanaimo councillor Bill Bestwick, but was traded shortly after a five-game suspension late in the season.

He said the idea for a friendly challenge came from a discussion between two city councillors at a recent convention.

“It was brought forward to me and we agreed to take up the challenge,” said Milobar. “We thought hockey jerseys would be the best way to identify each city.”

If Nanaimo loses, Ruttan will have to wear a blue Kamloops Blazers jersey for the entire length of a council meeting. If Kamloops loses, Milobar will have to wear a Clippers jersey.

B.C. Hydro tracks power usage during Earth Hour and posts the results the following day.

In 2012, Kamloops finished 15th out of 91 B.C. cities, reducing power consumption by 3.6 per cent. Nanaimo finished 21st, reducing its consumption by 2.6 per cent.

“The pressure is on,” said Ruttan. “We’ll need to make sure that Nanaimo comes through on this one.”

The power play takes place Saturday (March 23) from 8:30-9:30 p.m. when cities across the globe reduce power as a symbolic gesture to show it is possible to take action on climate change.

Milobar acknowledges his city could do more to conserve energy use – both Nanaimo and Kamloops have actually seen power usage increase during Earth Hour at least once since participating.

“I feel this is a good way to boost awareness,” said Milobar. “We’ve certainly had off-years here as well, I’m not going to lie. We’ve had less than stellar reductions so hopefully this can help put both cities right in the thick of things.”

Last year, more than 15 million Canadians performed the simple act of turning out the lights for an hour while others got more creative. Some restaurants promoted candlelight dining for patrons, families played board games or shared stories, and municipalities hosted events like Kamloops’s Dim Swim, where lights are dimmed at the Tournament Capital Centre so residents can enjoy a swim in semi-darkness.

In Nanaimo, city hall participates by dimming the lights at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre and city hall, and by turning off the big screen at Diana Krall Plaza.

Provincewide, B.C. residents and businesses saved 121 megawatt hours of electricity and reduced the provincial electricity load by 1.67 per cent, the equivalent of turning off about 9 million 12.5-watt light bulbs.

Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wildlife Fund and held annually at the end of March. The first event took place in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when that city’s residents turned out non-essential lights. Since then, it has grown to involve cities in more than 130 countries.

For more on the event, visit www.earthhour.org.