A road agreement for a wind turbine project on the boundary of West Perth drew plenty of attention from members of the public, and a disbelieving West Perth council last Monday, Dec. 15.
At their last council meeting of the year, and with festive treats at the ready, council heard from former West Perth CAO Will Jaques regarding a basic road user agreement as part of the Grand Bend Wind Project. Not only did members of the public, most of whom appeared to be opposed to the project, appear but council was also asked, despite not being fully aware of proposed amendments given mere hours before the meeting, to approve it before the night was over.
Since it was their last meeting of the calendar year, council heard that the project – approved earlier this June by the Ministry of the Environment – needed approval to proceed to the next step.
The urgency didn’t sit well with members of council, who eventually reluctantly agreed with the proposed amendments.
“Why as a council, are we being asked to sign a contract under duress?” asked Coun. Dean Trentowsky. “I got the first copy of this on the weekend, the second copy of this bylaw I received by email today at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon and I understand there’s a further revision that was submitted at 6:10 p.m. tonight – you’re asking me to sign a contract like that?”
Trentowsky also questioned whether drawings of the project were available, and Operations Manager Mike Kraemer pointed out that a rough draft of drawings that were given to the municipality were reviewed at a previous meeting Dec. 11 with various municipal staff and partners in the project.
“They are finalizing their plans and drawings but first of all, they need the road user agreement in place,” said Kraemer, explaining the urgency.
Jaques, who earlier that day officially began his new job with East Zorra-Tavistock, explained that the road user agreement has been worked on since September, and it’s only the last couple of weeks where enough information could be gathered together in a report. Jaques also presented background information on the project, bringing recently-elected council members up to speed, as council first discussed it two years ago and public meetings held.
At that time in 2012, members of West Perth council had concerns about above ground poles, overhead transmission lines and related infrastructure associated with the project. Council inquired about the lines and requested that they be buried.
That request was approved, noted Jaques, although burying primary transmission lines for wind projects is unique and costly to do so.
It is unknown at this time if burying the transmission line will cause other challenges in terms of future road maintenance or for the structure of the road itself, Jaques added.
Northland Power Inc. will be installing a 230 kv transmission line that will run from the wind farm project along to Perth Road 183 – the boundary road between West Perth and Huron East. Northland will be connecting this transmission line to the main hydro transmission corridor, which runs east/west across Road 183, south of Highway 8.
The Municipality of West Perth’s section of road will begin at Line 17 and extend to Line 28, approximately 11-kilometres in length.
In his presentation, Jaques noted that the transmission line will will zigzag or cross back and forth across Road 183 four times, with about 60 per cent of the line being on the Huron East side and 40 per cent on West Perth side. Cables originally to be buried in a trench a minimum of one-metre from the (travelled) road will now be two-metres from the road. The trench itself will be one-metre wide with cables buried at a depth of about 1.2-metres, and cables will be spliced at a minimum of one-kilometre intervals – all three cables will be spliced in close proximity to each other. Northland Power Inc. has indicated that the splicing procedure takes one to two weeks at each junction location.
The length of the agreement is set for 25 years, with construction planned to begin in the spring of 2015. The project has not been tendered yet, but council was assured that various road superintendents and operations managers from affected municipalities will be overseeing on site.
Council voted on two motions – one, to defer a decision until more information is collected (which was defeated), and to endorse the recommendation for the road user agreement, as presented by Jaques, which passed.
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