November 27, 2012

Tourism, turbines questioned at open house

By Eddie Chau, Dunnville Chronicle | November 27, 2012 |

There has been a lot of money invested in tourism in Haldimand County.

One resident said there was about $1.7 million invested in tourism in the Lowbanks and West Port Maitland. While the resident liked the idea of the investment he doesn’t think it was worth it.

“There’s no revenue generated,” he said. “We’re not getting any return.”

It’s one of several questions the resident had for Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt and Coun. Rob Shirton during one of the last in a series of Year In Review Open Houses held by the county Nov. 20 at the Lowbanks Community Centre.

The longtime Lowbanks resident had a number of questions to ask Hewitt and Shirton. Topics ranged from why GPS devices don’t pick up rural road names to lighting issues at the Lowbanks Community Centre.

“The community centre needs lights on the back parking lot,” the man asked. “There is also no sign for the community center. Maybe we can raise money for it.”

Regarding tourism, Hewitt said it’s something he and the resident can sit down and talk about how a partnership can be found to promote tourism in the area.

Hewitt said he will look into the GPS confusion while Shirton said the lack of proper names for rural roads on GPS devices happens in quite a few areas, mostly in rural locations.

“It’s not a big issues that we can’t find a solution for,” Hewitt said about lighting for the community centre.

About eight people turned out for the open house to hear Hewitt discuss the finances of the county for this year while Shirton discussed projects such as the gravel road conversion program, rural streetscape plan proposed for Byng and Port Maitland and the secondary plan for Dunnville.

The presentations were followed by a question and answer period for residents.

Hewitt said the total revenue for Haldimand County this year is more than $86 million as he noted the municipality is in great shape financially.

“In a scale between one and 10, we’re sitting at a seven,” Hewitt said. “Whereas places like Toronto, they would be a two.”

Shirton said there are many issues that affect the residents of Lowbanks which include proposed wind turbines in the area. The key for the situation is to have open dialogue and communication he said.

One resident had questions about wind turbines. She asked Hewitt and Shirton why the county wasn’t as proactive as other towns such as Wainfleet to slow down or prevent wind turbines from being constructed.

“Is the county being proactive to do the research to protect the safety of our residents?” asked the resident. “We don’t want to be Guinea pigs to what the ramifications are for the rest of the province.”

Hewitt discussed the two-kilometre setback bylaw passed by the Township of Wainfleet that’s currently being contested in court. Hewitt said there’s nothing council can do to supersede the Green Energy Act, which limits municipal governing body input on such projects.

Hewitt noted during the last municipal election in 2010, that many of those involved in turbine projects had already signed contracts and nothing could have been done to prevent it.

“During the election I had no idea how many turbines were coming to the county,” the mayor said. “We’re still learning about them (today). We sat down with proponents and opponents and got as much information as we can. We looked at all avenues.”

Hewitt said the public perception is that council is doing nothing about the issue when there’s been a lot of lobbying done from their end.

However when they met with officials from the provincial government, Hewitt noted there wasn’t much that could be done.

“We have no leg to stand on to stop them,” Hewitt said.

The final open house will take place Nov. 29 at the Fisherville Community Centre.

[rest of article available at source]

URL to article: