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City appealing to OMB over wind turbine clause in Official Plan  

Credit:  By PEGGY ARMSTRONG, FOR THE LINDSAY POST, www.thepost.ca 4 February 2012 ~~

LINDSAY -The City of Kawartha Lakes council has voted to appeal a clause in its Official Plan regarding industrial wind turbines.

The plan was recently approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and gives an appeal period that ends Feb. 6. The contentious section 12 was boiled down by the ministry to two general statements of support for renewable energy systems. Council had included about two and a half pages of additional clauses that would control the placement of wind turbines, including the right to locate a turbine 1,000 metres from sensitive land. The provincially approved minimum setback is 550 metres.

Staff initially were reluctant to appeal, Michael Benner, manager of policy planning, said in an interview, but in further consultation with council members agreed with the action.

“It’s better to be totally silent,” on the issue, he explained. Developers can’t use city policies to support their wind projects if the city has no policy, he said.

Control over their placement can then be attempted through site plans and other planning regulations, Benner said.

According to Benner, it typically takes two to three months for an appeal to go through the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

The motion to appeal was presented to the special council meeting on Tuesday by Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble. Special council meetings are for council to receive information. Motions to take action are normally not permitted. That restriction was waived because the appeal period would expire a day before the next scheduled council meeting, which is Feb. 7.

Tuesday’s special council meeting was called by the mayor last Wednesday and the agenda made public on Thursday. It was attended by about a dozen members of the Manvers Wind Concerns group, which opposes wind turbines coming to the area.

Council voted strongly in favour of the motion, with only Ward 9 Coun. Andy Luff in opposition. He argued that changes could be made to the wording of the Official Plan without an OMB appeal.

That option, staff explained to council, would take longer than an appeal. Director of development services Ron Taylor said the appeal will not be expensive because it will be done by staff, rather than hiring outside consultants. “We think it’s a pretty simple argument.”

HERITAGE PLAN TABLED

The staff report on the Heritage Master Plan was received by council during the special meeting.

“It’s a preliminary document. We’ll see where it takes us,” noted Ward 10 Coun. Pat Dunn.

Economic development director Lance Sherk told councillors that the plan will now be brought to the heritage community for feedback.

Ward 9 Coun. Andy Luff emphasized that during those consultations, the public must not be given the impression that any funds have been approved by council as of yet. “Stakeholders must know we haven’t agreed to anything.”

Sherk said council will decide if projects are funded.

The plan calls for expanding Heritage Victoria, a committee of council, to be the central heritage body in the city. All heritage organizations, including public and private museums, historical societies and clubs, churches, the Kawartha Trans Canada Trail, cemeteries, bridges and the Arts, specifically the Academy Theatre and Lilac Festival, would come under its umbrella of “heritage coordination”.

The hiring of three staff this year at an annual cost of $200,000, and hiring two additional professionals at a cost of $125,000 next year to upgrade the archive system, was presented in the plan.

The master plan was outlined to council by consultant Rick Fortin. He proposed that tourism will be the major economic force in the area, surpassing agriculture and manufacturing in importance.

“This is a creative society. You’re not going to get a Honda plant, nor should you want one,” he said in an interview with The Lindsay Post after his presentation.

Over the past year, he said he spoke with about 130 people, particularly in what he termed “the heritage network” -primarily public and private museums and historical societies.

Asked the cost of his consultation work in the project, he replied that it was a fixed fee of between $60,000 to $70,000. His business, Richard Fortin and Associates, is based in Scarborough.

Several councillors praised the report, while others noted it raised a tremendous number of questions. Fortin said it was brought to council first, but will be taken to the heritage stakeholders as a base for comment.

PROJECTS ‘HIT A WALL’

The annual report from the environmental advisory committee was presented to the special council meeting by committee chair Lou Probst.

He said some projects requested by council included revising the building code to utilize native plants for landscaping, but that was judged impractical; free parking for electric and hybrid cars, but that was hard to enforce; and planting evergreen shrubs instead of a snow fence, but that would encroach on private land.

Proposals that did go forward include a lake management project under Kawartha Conservation. Signs have also been put up signifying provincially significant wetlands and turtle crossings.

Probst said the projects that “have hit a wall” include creating a septic database that would include the age and maintenance history of septic systems in the city. He said the project would use Fleming College students to keep the costs low, but that the proposal was rejected by staff and the local health unit was reluctant to release data. He said the committee will continue its efforts to create the database.

Probst said a desired project on naturalizing shorelines was also rejected by staff “as an invasion of privacy.” However, during questions with councillors, he said that shoreline property owners often have an urban understanding of keeping grass cut by the water and a naturalized shoreline is seen as untidy. “They have to get over that.”

Source:  By PEGGY ARMSTRONG, FOR THE LINDSAY POST, www.thepost.ca 4 February 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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