Dufferin County’s western townships are likely to be discussing the same issues throughout 2007, but it’s not certain whether or not they’ll be taking the same tack, especially on wind farms and garbage disposal.
In Melancthon, Mayor Ron Dillman wants to resolve issues delaying the Melancthon II wind project as quickly as possible. He says he’s concerned about revenues lost through delays, and about the possibility of an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.
The 88-turbine project is more than two-thirds in Melancthon, but partially in Amaranth. “We’re not part of Amaranth. Would we be forced into an OMB hearing (if Amaranth council voted against zoning)?”
The mayor said his revenue concern is not just for the township coffers, although the turbines would mean as much as $3- million added industrial assessment plus an added $1,000 per turbine above-tax payment.
“I’m concerned about the farmers, the contractors and the spinoffs. Most of the contractors are local; most of the landowners are residents. They all spend money in the community. They (the wind turbines) don’t add costs to the township. They’re our only source of commercial revenue. They’re a win-win proposition.”
As a neophyte politician, Mayor Dillman wanted more time to discuss issues with the township CAO. His personal project for 2007 includes a lot of research at both the township and county levels.
Yet, as a retired septage hauler, mayor Dillman said he’s concerned about the garbage issue at the county level. And, perhaps because he’s been dealing on a personal level with legislative matters, he says Bills 51 and 43 – the province’s legislation that will regulate land-use planning and water use – are likely to occupy a lot of the council’s time in the next few years.
Amaranth has at least two local issues in common with Melancthon: wind turbines and garbage dumps.
On garbage dumps, both have some capacity left, and both have shown in the past that they would defend their right to dispose of their own waste.
Their positions are different on wind farms. Melancthon has provided for electrical generation in its Official Plan, but Amaranth has not. And, even at its most recent meeting, Amaranth council was inundated with anti-turbine literature.
Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver says the council is not specifically opposed to wind turbines, but is pursuing due diligence in its planning considerations.
Meantime, the township also has applications from several additional wind proponents to rezone for installation of meteorological towers for preliminary testing of various sites throughout the township.
Neighbouring East Luther Grand Valley has provided for wind turbines in its Official Plan, and is in the process of approving a smaller project at Ashton Ridge, north of Grand Valley.
ELGV Mayor John Oosterhof is mainly concerned now with seeing the sewage plant at Grand Valley completed, and finding employment development to complement the residential subdivisions that are already in the planning stages.
In East Garafraxa, wind farms, bridges and impending legislation were uppermost in the mind of Mayor Allen Taylor.
In that township, it’s a case of “water under three troubled bridges,” to misquote a popular song. “We need to replace three bridges. There are too many bridges and too few contractors,” Mayor Taylor said.
He indicated there is funding available, but it’s going to be a challenge to find someone to do the work at affordable prices.
The township wants development. But Mayor Taylor said Bill 43, the Source Water Protection Act, might make that difficult. “It will have an impact on property as there are exclusion zones.”
Yet the real problem with the legislation and its exclusions, he said, is that “we don’t know what they are yet.”
East Garafraxa might not be as attractive to wind farm proponents as Amaranth and Melancthon, but that doesn’t mean it’s unacceptable terrain.
The Province is looking to renewable energy. Industry experts say that the installations must be dispersed to reap the wind. Mayor Taylor takes a pragmatic posture on the issue and says, “we know there’s no way we can say, no, to wind power.
“The Province wants them.” The township would draft a bylaw “and then it’s up to the government to say whether or not we’re being fair.”
By Wes Keller
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