Building an industrial wind turbine in the Municipality of Grey Highlands could get significantly more expensive if new proposed entrance permit fees and securities are approved by council.
Grey Highlands council at its regular meeting on April 29 called a public meeting for May 9 at 7 p.m. to hear input on proposed new fees for wind turbine entrance permits.
Grey Highlands is faced with the imminent construction of one 11 turbine project within its borders, with more projects possible in the future.
In April council increased turbine building permit fees from $9,000 to $35,000 per turbine, plus $100,000 in performance bonds for each turbine.
On May 9 council will hear input on a proposal to increase the turbine entrance permit fee to $5,000 per turbine. In addition, Grey Highlands will also be seeking securities for each turbine depending on the state of the municipal road the turbine company is seeking access to.
CAO Dan Best explained that the minimum amount for security (to ensure that any damage done to the municipal road when the turbines are constructed) would be $50,000. Best said the security fee would rise to $125,000 is there is a box culvert in the area and to $200,000 if there is a municipal bridge on the road. The CAO said municipal staff would examine the route a turbine company would use to get to the site before determining the fee.
“Security bonds are not unusual if you’re building a major industrial facility,” commented councillor Stewart Halliday. “The key is how the bond is released. When are they off the hook and get their money back,” he said.
CAO Dan Best said it is standard practice for a municipality to ask for securities. Best said the municipality and company involved would come to an agreement that would specify when the securities would be released back to the company.
Councillor David Kell said he felt the proposed new fees are a “double standard” and would not be applied to a project such as the construction of Chapman’s Ice Cream plant.
However, CAO Best explained that the Chapman’s project was governed by all aspects of the Planning Act that allows for Site Plan Control and Development Agreements that would cover securities. Best noted that wind turbine projects have been exempted from standard Planning Act regulations leaving the municipality with few options to protect its interests.
“We need some safeguards for the municipality,” noted Best.
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