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St. Clair not a willing host for turbines

St. Clair Township is not a willing host for wind turbines.

That’s the declaration councillors made – unanimously – after a recent discussion to establish a by-law about where they can be placed within the municipality.

Deputy Clerk and Coordinator of Planning Jeff Baranek made a presentation to council suggesting it adopt a by-law to establish building permit fees for industrial wind turbines.

“You can’t make revenue off building permit fees,” he said, “but you can ensure all costs… are harboured by the developer.”

Baranek’s suggestion was a $10,000 fee per turbine plus $100 per metre to the highest point of the structure. He mentioned that some municipalities – most notably Bluewater – are issuing other fees, like a $220,000 decommissioning fee by that municipality, but such a cost was not among his recommendations.

He did, however, suggest that council adopt a two-kilometre setback from any property line, which he said would essentially “sterilize” the township.

There would be a clause to allow the reduction of setbacks with appropriate scientific evidence.

“I’m not encouraging these things, I just want to make sure it’s in the by-laws,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Gilliland after agreeing to Baranek’s recommendations.

Still, Jim DeGurse wondered whether the move made it look like the township was willing to receive turbines.

Immediately after councillors voted in favour of the amended by-law, Councillor Jeff Agar made a new motion – that St. Clair Township is “not interested in being a willing host to (industrial wind turbines).”

The motion was passed without discussion.