CLEARVIEW TWP. – Large-scale green energy projects will a clear understanding of the ground rules if they want to deal with the township.
On Monday, Clearview Township Council approved a protocol that proponents of a large-scale renewable energy project development will have to follow when dealing with municipal staff.
The protocol essentially sets the ground rules for how a developer works with the township, said director of planning Michael Wynia.
The provincial government has recently introduced a new ‘priority points’ system for renewable energy projects, and proponents of a project get points from the province for sitting down with a municipality to discuss their plans. However, said Wynia, earning points from the province could include an initial meeting with municipal officials and only the provision of very basic information on a project.
With the protocol, said Wynia, it will be very clear to an applicant what’s expected of them from the municipality’s point-of-view.
“We want to make sure we get the information that’s appropriate, and they just don’t get to score any points on us [by saying they consulted with the municipality],” Wynia told councillors on Monday as he introduced the new protocol.
Wynia said the protocol was established because the province has tweaked the process of how large energy suppliers are procured. It’s also largely been guided by the municipality’s experience with WPD Canada’s proposal to erect eight wind turbines in the area of County Road 91, west of Stayner.
The township has declared itself an ‘unwilling host’ to wind energy developments, and has taken the position that WPD has never really consulted directly with municipal staff – though the company has held public open houses on their project.
WPD is awaiting a decision from the Ministry of the Environment on its renewable energy project application.
“The experience with WPD has been an eyeopener to us with the Green Energy Act, and how the process works – or doesn’t work – relative to municipal interests,” Wynia said. “To be fair to the energy supplier, the applicants, to be fair to the municipality and to be fair to the public, we should establish a clear process on how the municipality deals with these things, as opposed to applicants just wander in and have a different approach each time and not understanding how the municipality will react to it, how it fits in with the provincial process.”
During the discussion, Mayor Chris Vanderkruys questioned Wynia whether the protocol represented more “red tape” for development.
“You could call it another hoop – basically we’re saying if you’re going to propose a large energy project in our municipality, and you want to consult with the municipality, here’s how we want to consult,” Wynia said after the meeting. “I don’t consider that another hoop … we’re just telling them how to consult with us to make the process more efficient.
“I don’t consider that to be a barrier – I think it puts it on the table that this is what we want to see if you come talk to us, you know what’s expected,” he said. “We’re saying, here’s what the municipality’s fundamental interests are, in terms of the information we need to initiate a discussion on this, and let’s just put it in a protocol so everybody is on the same page on day one.”
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