Cochrane High School’s five-kilowatt wind turbine project got the green light from Rocky View Schools (RVS) board, Jan. 10.
The project, first presented to RVS on Nov. 15, is a 69-foot electricity-generating tower located on the Cochrane High School grounds.
The next hurdle for the student-led project, which was opposed by a number of Cochrane residents, will be to receive approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC).
“At the end of the day, for me the decision was how does this decision contribute to the school’s environment and the student’s learning?” said Trustee Colleen Munro, who voted in favour of approving the project.
“Change is hard. Being the vanguard of change is even harder. I know I will be able to hold my head up in the community and say ‘we are doing this for the right reason.’”
The comments came after a lengthy discussion by the board, during which trustees talked about several issues brought up by members of the No Turbine in Town Coalition at the Dec. 6 school board meeting.
Issues included potential impacts to health and property values and concern the public had not had ample opportunity for input.
During the discussion, Superintendent Greg Bass said the project has been underway for about 18 months and recommended approval.
“I believe the teacher advisors and students have done their due diligence to ensure this project is safe for all the students,” he said. “Their forward thinking is something we need to recognize.”
Bass said since RVS got involved with the project last summer, the students implemented a number of changes, including altering the location and lowering the height of the tower, to appease detractors.
He noted there is no concrete data to suggest the wind turbine may pose health risks to students or residents or detract from land values. He said the student group gave ample opportunity for input and said the AUC would likely provide another opportunity for public input.
Trustee Bev LaPeare, who said she visited the proposed site, agreed.
“I don’t feel it’s going to be an interference to views,” she said. “I don’t see how it will impact property values.”
Trustee Sylvia Eggerer expressed concern about the possible health impacts and location.
“I’m not prepared to support this motion because there are too many questions out there,” she said. “I wonder if there would be a better location that would appease residents and be further away from the school site?”
Trustees LaPeare, Bruce Pettigrew, Munro and Helen Clease voted in favour, while Eggerer was opposed. Trustees Norma Lang and Don Thomas were absent.
RVS will submit an application to the AUC to erect the turbine.
For more information, visit www.rockyview.ab.ca
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