Concerns from two community groups have council revisiting language in its proposed Renewable Energy Framework.
Both the Cochrane Settlement Community Association and the Cochrane High School Sustainability Group spoke to council at the public hearing regarding the proposed bylaw on Monday. While the high school wanted clarification on whether it could build its own turbine project, the community association worried the bylaw would allow projects in sensitive ecological areas.
“The purpose of the bylaw is to amend the Land Use Bylaw in order to accommodate renewable energy technologies, specifically solar systems and small wind turbines,” said Nicole Tomes, planner for the town, in a council report.
“It seems to me that the purpose of this bylaw should be to make it relatively easy for residents to embrace renewable energy without any extra cost and extra barricades,” said Judy Stewart with the community association.
She, and the association, believe the bylaw’s intentions are not being met as it contains ambiguous language regarding the different types of wind turbines. She noted the uncertainty could lead to loopholes within the system.
For example, the term “wind turbine projects” was used with no definition and she wondered if they were the same as Type A and Type B small wind turbines.
“Is there something else that should be allowed, or that fits the definition of wind turbine projects? Maybe you should look for some more clarity there,” Stewart said.
She added the process an applicant must follow was also ambiguous.
She also took issue with the Cochrane Ranche Site being listed as a potential area for small wind turbines.
“Why would the town put a 30-metre turbine in the Ranche? This is home to a very complex ecological system, including the healthy aquatic habitat that exists here and attracts migratory species for breeding and nesting every single year,” Stewart said.
The Cochrane High School group is confused about whether the school can erect a small wind turbine of its own. The school has been vying for a wind turbine since 2011 – which spurred the town to develop the framework – initially proposing to build a 60-foot Evance R9000 – considered a Type B small wind turbine in the bylaw.
“This turbine will be located on school property and will be a valuable asset to all of the surrounding schools. The turbine will allow Cochrane High, a large consumer of energy, to reduce its environmental impact. It also provides the opportunity to educate students about green technology and acts as an everyday reminder that energy consumption affects us all,” explained Megan Luft on behalf of the group.
She explained the committee is in favour of the proposed bylaw but needed clarification regarding the type of development Cochrane High School is.
“We need a definition as to what occupied building entails. Because our school is not occupied at night, we believe we should be considered a workplace and should not be considered in this requirement. Standard practice in Alberta, under noise requirements, are most restrictive at a dwelling, which are defined as places where people regularly sleep overnight. There are different restrictions regarding workplaces, where people attend only some hours of the day and are expected to be awake,” Luft explained.
Following the comments made in the public hearing by both groups, council chose to defer the bylaw until administration could provide a clarification of terms and languages. The bylaw has to be brought forward again by May 29.
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