CLEARVIEW TWP. – Clearview council held a closed session meeting before Monday night’s council meeting seeking legal advice in regard to the proposed WPD Fairview Wind Farm.
In the public session, Deputy Mayor Burton reported that council passed a resolution to do two things; have it’s solicitor obtain intervenor or party status at an upcoming court battle and to undertake an economic impact report on the effects of a wind turbine development on the local economy, particularly the proposed, adjacent Clearview Aviation Commerce Centre.
The Fairview Wind Project proposes to build eight turbines, west of Stayner, both north and south of County Rd. 91.
If built, the project would represent a 16.4 megawatt wind project, which would add almost 40 million kWh annually into the local electricity grid, that would power 2,200 homes.
The project received a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contract from the provincial government in 2010.
It submitted it Renewable Energy Approval application in Sept. 2012 and was accepted by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and deemed complete but final approval has not been issued, holding up the start of construction.
The owners, who expected to begin construction this year, are taking the province to court.
Residents of the area have rigorously fought the project as have owners and stakeholders of the nearby Collingwood Regional Airport.
One of those is Clearview councillor Kevin Elwood, who declared a pecuniary interest and did not attend the closed session meeting. He is the owner of a private runway on his Clearview Nursery property, located on County Rd. 91, southwest of Stayner.
Back in 2012, Elwood filed a lawsuit against WPD and then land owners Beattie Bros. Ltd. citing that the location of the turbines would make his airstrip unsafe to use.
Collingwood Airport board members have fought the development as unsafe to operate so close to an airport.
The closest turbine is 3.1 km from the end of the primary Collingwood Airport runway, according to the WPD website.
Transport Canada has reviewed and approved the project’s lighting proposal. NAV Canada has analyzed the project and commented that “some of the flight instrument approach procedures at Collingwood Airport should be altered to accommodate the Fairview Wind Project,” according to their website.
MOECC has directed the company to undertake an economic development study on the impact of the turbines to the airport and local economy.
However Clearview residents, including Bill Ruppert, who addressed Clearview council at the Oct. 26 meeting, said he doesn’t trust that the company’s report would be of value.
“In our view WPD (report) is unlikely to be accurate or thorough. We need Clearview Township to get legal council . . to protect the airport and Clearview Township.”
Ruppert added that he owns farmland beside the proposed site and that “it would have a negative impact on us as a family.”
NVCA’s ‘archaic’ rule book needs update
Clearview council is unhappy with an ‘archaic’ Conservation Act and is writing a letter to the province to make an important change to it’s board of director voting procedure.
While council voted to participate in a one-year pilot project to reduce membership on the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) board of directors from two to one, it didn’t agree with the terms of voting.
The Conservation Act, written in the 1940s, doesn’t allow for an alternate member of council taking the place of the named member to vote on decisions.
“We checked with our lawyer. No proxy vote is permitted,” said Gayle Wood, chief administrative officer of the NVCA.
Wood and board chair Doug Lougheed made a deputation to council looking for their support to reduce the number of board members from 27 to 18, one for each member municipality. The reduction would bring them into line with other conservation authority board sizes in the province and save 1% or $23,750 in the NVCA budget.
Councillor Doug Measures argued that no matter which councillor sits at the table, they should get a vote because all councillors take an oath to serve their municipality.
“The municipality is the member and we send a representative,” he said.
Lougheed said that board of directors do not take an oath of service.
Coun. Connie Leishman will be the single representative in 2016 and will continue to serve out the four-year term, mirroring municipal term of government.
“Pending any serious illness or death, I have no intention of not being there,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Barry Burton, who chaired the council meeting, said an alternate not being able to vote, “is a huge issue for me.”
“What is decided at the NVCA has huge implications on our planning department.”
Planner Rosalyn Workman said the NVCA is a daily resource for the department but that NVCA rules affect other departments as well.
The single vote for each municipality is weighted based on population. For Clearview it’s between 8% and 9%.
When asked by Coun. Shawn Davidson if a re-appointment could take place should the member become ill or take a leave of absence, Wood responded that that could happen “very quickly.”
Davidson added that there needs to be improvement in relations between the municipality and NVCA staff.
“The angst in this municipality needs to improve their relations with the (NVCA) staff.”
The board of directors sets policy but the working relationship is with staff, said Wood.
“My mandate is to improve the municipal relationships. I’ve been directed to continue to improve our partnership with all 18 of our member municipalities.”
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