Cliff Elle was back at Town Hall last Monday, trying anew to sell skeptical councillors on having a working tourist windmill in Pincher Creek.
The Pincher Creek Chamber of Economic Development member brought photos of such a turbine right in the middle of Toronto to show such an attraction is possible in an urban setting.
Elle said he hoped a working turbine with educational materials could be an attraction on the level of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
On behalf of a planning committee working with the Wind Power Inc. company, Elle presented a location in the north end of town. The location is serviced and is close to the future Wal-mart, which is likely to welcome recreation vehicles. The proposed turbine would be fully operational and most of the revenue would likely go back to Wind Power, with a small portion going towards maintaining an interpretive centre. Wind Power is one company interested in erecting the machine.
However, many councillors worried such a turbine could have a large setback zone which would infringe on the town’s main growth area. They also worried about having turbine noise in an area with restaurant patios, and possibly bird-killing turbine blades next to a future wetland park. They wanted to know how close people would be able to get to the turbine and how arrangements would work between the municipality and a private company. They ultimately worried about setting a precedent as well, with other wind power companies pushing to put turbines north of town.
Elle said the proposal was still in its early stages.
A chicken-and-egg scenario developed, in which many councillors were reluctant to approve a location with so many questions and – according to Elle – Wind Power wanted an approved location before they started researching answers. Councillors Sharon Smith and Roy Smyth, who are Town representatives on the tourist turbine committee, seemed caught in the middle. They joked that Councillor Trevor Birkmann, who had an especially long list of questions, should have been on the committee.
Some councillors felt a tourist turbine might be better off by the lagoon where the eggbeaters used to be, though Elle doubted such a location would actually draw people into town to spend money. Alternate locations also lacked services. Some councillors also felt a non-working turbine with an observation deck would eliminate a lot of logistical hurdles, though it’s not clear who would pay to build such a turbine without the prospect of revenue from electricity generation.
By Ben Curties
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