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Reigning Earth Hour champs challenge other Kootenay communities

Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff has thrown down the gauntlet to mayors of Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks, as reigning champion of Fortis B.C.'s EarthHour Challenge.

Chernoff (pictured here with 2009's trophy for Castlegar besting the participation rates of all other communities in the region) said he hopes residents will once again turn off their lights for a single hour to reduce energy consumption and bring attention to conservation issues – this time on March 27 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.

“It's the right thing to do – an hour in the dark means leaving a lighter footprint,” he said, adding this is a fun, if ironic way, to turn a spotlight on energy use.

“Spending an hour using candlelight instead can create ambiance – this challenge can serve many purposes,” he joked. “But this year, we're asking other communities to step up and try to match or beat us. I've sent letters to all three mayors already, and the next step is creating stakes – flying the winning city's flag, maybe, or making the other mayors wear our T-shirts in their own city halls for the day.

“So I really need Castlegar residents to back me up on this, or I could be in trouble.”

He said he doesn't have the numbers from last year's challenge ready to hand, but he knows Castlegar won by a tidy margin.

“We waxed 'em,” he said. “Of course, it's all in fun – a friendly competition for a good cause.”

Mostly, though, inside sources (who asked to remain unnamed) indicated Chernoff's true motivation is an abiding desire to keep the Fortis trophy on display in his office at city hall.

All residents are asked to turn off indoor and outdoor lights – and, ideally, all items requiring electricity – for an hour on the evening of March 20, between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

For more information, contact city hall at 250-365-7227.