Allan Jones shows off his first attempt at making a wooden bicycle, one of the many exhibits at the alternative energy symposium last saturday at Penticton Secondary. More of Jones’ work can be seen at Steve Kidd/Western News

Diverse day at Penticton energy symposium

First Things First continues to build momentum

Attendance at the one-day alternative energy symposium Saturday may not have been as high as hoped for, but organizers are happy with how it turned out.

“It was an interesting day, we had all those great speakers,” said Jim Beattie, of First Things First Okanagan, the group that put on the symposium.

“I think it was an exceptionally diverse session. If there were any weaknesses, perhaps it was too broad. We had an awful lot of speakers,” said Beattie. The attendance was actually much higher than it might have seemed — the symposium was on all week in Penticton Secondary for the students.

“I think we saw about 300 people on the Saturday, but during the week, from Tuesday to Friday, we were in classes where we were talking directly to 400 students, with a diverse number of speakers on different topics,” said Beattie. There was also a mini-symposium and exhibits on Friday for the students.

“When I look back on it, I just feel happy we were able to make contact with so many students. It is the youth that are going to be taking the responsibility for dealing with the environment and the transportation systems and so on. Getting them engaged was a big thing for us, and I think the school felt good about it too,” said Beattie.

The symposium is First Things First’s second, and while it was intended to be non-political, it was high profile enough to draw a group of Site C opponents, who set up a white elephant on Eckhardt Avenue in front of the school.

“They weren’t part of our program, but they knew about it, so they took the opportunity to make their statement,” said Beattie.

The theme of this year’s event was Energy: our present, our future, and featured presenters with a range of ideas, from transportation planning to using the Okanagan River Channel to create a wind corridor and capture the wind energy.

Displays ranged from solar to wind, an energy quiz from FortisBC, and more.

Beattie said it’s about building a base of support so the group can continue to reach out into the communities.

The idea is to keep building, he explained, and turn some of these ideas into reality, creating both a better environment in the Okanagan through renewable energy, and the new jobs that would come along with that.

“We are going to build on it,” said Beattie. “We are not going away, we are going to keep on building on the momentum. This is our second symposium, that is good progress for a small group.”

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