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Wind turbine construction expected in spring

SOUTH HURON – The municipality can expect to see construction begin on the Goshen wind turbine project in the spring.

South Huron council received an update on the project at its Nov. 4 meeting.

Derek Dudek of NextEra Energy spoke to council about the status of the Goshen Wind Energy Centre, a 63-turbine, 102 megawatt wind energy project in South Huron and Bluewater. Dudek said he expects construction on the Goshen project to start in the spring.

One of the concerns about the wind projects in the area is what impact they would have on the Exeter Radar Station on Highway 83 east of Exeter.

“We have received clearance from Environment Canada that they’re satisfied there will be no impacts,” Dudek said, adding that while he so far only has verbal clearance from Environment Canada, he will forward written documentation to the municipality once NextEra receives it.

In other project news, Dudek said NextEra would like to move forward with entering into detailed discussions with South Huron about road use agreements.

Dudek also said the company would like to set up a Community Vibrancy Fund to support community events during the life of the project. Asked by Coun. Wayne DeLuca for further details on the fund, Dudek said NextEra pays lower property taxes for its Ontario projects than it does in other provinces and in the United States and set up the fund to help with local projects.

“The property taxation structure in Ontario is set at a certain amount per megawatt and we don’t pay a lot of property taxes,” he said adding the rates are set by MPAC.

As a result of paying low taxes in Ontario, Dudek said NextEra came up with the idea of a Community Vibrancy Fund to be used for community initiatives.

“We’re certainly offering it,” he said of the fund. “There’s no requirement that it be entered into with the municipality but we’ve always offered it and we will continue to offer it moving forward.”

Dudek said NextEra has a Community Vibrancy Fund agreement with Haldimand County and will send details of it to South Huron.

Coun. David Frayne said he hopes NextEra’s turbines don’t affect the airport in Huron Park, noting the municipality is trying to promote the airport. Dudek said NextEra has been in consultation with the local airports, including Huron Park and Grand Bend.

Chief administrative officer Roy Hardy said he, Deputy Mayor Jim Dietrich and staff have been working as an ad hoc committee looking into the local wind energy projects and will continue to keep council apprised of developments.

Other council notes:

Expansion of BIA

Upon a request form the Exeter Business Improvement Area (BIA) board, council has directed staff to proceed with the expansion of the BIA boundaries.

Corporate services manager Michael Di Lullo said in his report the new expansion would fall in line with the municipality’s MainStreets Master Plan proposal.

The proposed new boundaries would see the BIA expand north of Thames Road, stopping just short of Huron Tractor (which is in Bluewater) and going east to include businesses such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Hansen’s Independent Grocer and Canadian Tire, but stopping at Rosemount Avenue. To the west on Thames, the boundary would stop before the Hay Communications building.

At the south end of town, the BIA would expand south and include Huron Motor Products, the new Exeter Toyota and the Exeter Animal Hospital.

Exeter BIA manager Brittany Fry told the Times-Advocate on Monday that it has been 25 years since the BIA last expanded its boundaries. At the time, those boundaries included all the commercial districts in Exeter.

She said the current BIA membership doesn’t represent all of commercial Exeter and the BIA feels it is important to expand to align with Exeter’s commercial development at the same time South Huron is updating its Official Plan.

Before becoming official, property owners and tenants have to be notified and a bylaw will come back to council for consideration.

According to Di Lullo’s report, council cannot pass a bylaw to change the boundaries if at least one third of the people entitled to receive notification object, if the total value of the taxes of the objectors is at least one third of the total taxes in the improvement area or if the total value of the taxes of the objectors is at least one third of the total taxes in the proposed boundary expansion area.

Zoning amendment for radio station passed

Planning assistant Trista Russell informed council that Huron County has given its blessing to allow the rezoning of 145 Thames Road West to permanently allow radio station myFM and its accessory broadcasting equipment at the site.

While council passed first and second reading of the zoning bylaw amendment at its July 15 meeting, it was awaiting a decision by the county before passing third and final reading last week.