Melancthon Township Council has accepted an “amenities agreement” with Canadian Hydro Developers, and has voted to support the company’s position on the Melancthon II wind farm project at the Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearings and main event.
The double-barrelled motion carried in an unrecorded vote at the last meeting of the council. The decision does not affect zoning, as that issue is before the OMB.
CHD’s commitment is a $4,000 per annum “voluntary community benefit contribution” for each of the turbines proposed for Phase 2 of the wind farm, in addition to the industrial tax on the units. CAO Denise Holmes said the payment of $1,000 per turbine for the 45 turbines of Phase 1 is unaffected by the new agreement.
The provincial assessment cap on the turbines themselves is set at $60,000 plus about $33,000 for access roads and other peripheral things. Ms. Holmes said the voluntary payment alone would add $313,000 to the township’s revenue once Phase 2 is in place. This would be in addition to the industrial taxes on all 112 installations.
Last year’s revenue from the Phase 1 wind farm was in the order of $80,000 for municipal purposes, including the voluntary contribution but excluding the amounts collected by the township for county and education purposes. On that basis, when the local tax rate has been taken into account, it would appear the total municipal revenue would approach $370,000 – but this was not immediately confirmed.
At the outset of planning for the wind farm, the province had not capped the assessment. The new agreement would take the revenue to somewhere near the original expectations. According to the agreement, the voluntary contribution would be amended it the province decided to remove the assessment cap of $40,000 per megawatt of nameplate capacity.
As a further condition of the agreement, the township has agreed to authorize construction of access roads prior to the various planning approvals coming into force.
It could not be immediately determined what, if any, effect the Melancthon agreement would have on Amaranth Township’s position with respect to the OMB hearings.
Councillors Jane Aultman and Percy Way said the topic had not been discussed, and Ms. Aultman said any discussions about the Melancthon II wind project would be held in camera as the issues are before the OMB. Mayor Don MacIver could not be reached for comment as he was out of town, and calls to Deputy Mayor Walter Kolodziechuk were not returned.
But a source at Canadian Hydro in Calgary said some of the work is expected to get under way next month. “With the completion of the Environmental Screening Process for the Melancthon II Wind Project, Canadian Hydro is now preparing to commence site servicing works in Melancthon Township. It is envisioned that such works would commence mid July 2007.
“The work done as site servicing will be work which is permitted by any landowner under the general zoning by-laws that are currently in force. Similar site servicing work was carried out in the case of Melancthon I.
“Canadian Hydro recognizes that its election to proceed with these permitted works is at its sole risk and is driven by the desire to maximize its use of the summer construction season to the extent that it is Canadian Hydro’s lawful entitlement to do so. Carrying out the site servicing work in no way presupposes the outcome of the Ontario Municipal Board hearing,” the source said.
“Site servicing is basically the development of access roads and crane pads on private lands. This includes stripping of about 300 mm (12 inches) of topsoil and stock piling on-site. The access road is built-up with placement of two layers of gravel above a geotextile.
“A geotextile is a synthetic permeable textile material used with soil, rock, or any other geotechnical engineering related material. Geotextiles extend the service life of roads, increase their load-carrying capacity, and reduce the incidence of ruts. These benefits are accomplished by separating aggregate structural layers from subgrade soil while allowing the passage of water ”
Said local project manager Geoff Carnegie: “Final approval of the Melancthon II Wind Plant is still conditional upon completion of the upcoming OMB hearings, among other permits and approvals. Canadian Hydro fully understands that we are proceeding with site servicing on private lands in Melancthon Township only at our own risk. We will fully respect the outcome of the OMB hearings and will comply with any changes required at our own cost.”
By Wes Keller
14 June 2007
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