Grey Highlands council has narrowly voted in favour of creating a new green energy committee that will investigate the issue and provide information to council.
Council approved the new group at its regular meeting on Monday, May 28. The new committee was approved in a tight 4-3 vote.
Deputy Mayor Paul McQueen brought forward the idea and said council needs a group that is working on investigating the various green energy proposals that keep popping up in Grey Highlands.
The Deputy Mayor suggested the new committee consist of some members of council, some municipal employees and members of the public. He said he wanted the group to have no official standing in order to research the issue and provide data to council.
“I think there is an opportunity for a group to gather information to keep council better informed,” McQueen explained to council.
The Deputy Mayor said green energy proposals keep showing up in Grey Highlands – often with council having no advance warning or notification of the proposal.
“The onslaught of green energy projects on rural Ontario is huge. I think we can be criticized for not doing as much as we can,” said McQueen.
The Deputy Mayor noted that members of council are often asked questions about the companies making green energy proposals in the municipality, but they often have limited information. He said in some cases council hasn’t even been aware of the ownership of the company’s making the proposals.
The suggestion of a new committee didn’t sit well with some members of council including Mayor Wayne Fitzgerald.
“I don’t think we need another group. There is always a chance for a lot of discussion at council,” said Mayor Fitzgerald, who said he didn’t think some of the information the committee would gather was that important for council to have.
Councillor David Kell said he is concerned the new committee will be stacked with citizens against wind turbines.
“Would it be formed with a group that is anti-turbine? Or would it be mixed with people that could look at it openly?” Kell asked. “We don’t have many decisions to make on wind turbines. That was taken away from us. It doesn’t matter if these companies have good finances or not. If they have a permit – they can build the turbines,” he said.
McQueen said he was surprised that some councillors didn’t want information about a subject that they have to make decisions about.
“Do we, as councillors, have time to go out and research these issues?” said McQueen.
In a 4-3 recorded vote council accepted McQueen’s suggestion. Mayor Fitzgerald and councillors Kell and Dave Clarke voted against the new committee.
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