Citizens of Lundbreck and the MD of Pincher Creek brought concerns forward to councillors regarding animal control, wind turbines and roads during the Municipal District’s Coffee with Council event last Tuesday.
Depreciating wind turbines: a hot topic
Wind turbines were a hot topic amongst the 30 or so in attendance at the Lundbreck Community Hall. Residents are worried not only about the potential hindrance of their views but also of the possibility of taxes increasing when the MD loses tax revenue on depreciated turbines.
Based on the 2017 Mill Rate Bylaw, the total tax revenue generated from equipment used in the production of electrical power, including the wind turbines within the MD and the power generating facilities at the Oldman Dam and Waterton Dam, generates 33 per cent of tax revenue, or $3,503,986.
However, councillors told those in attendance that turbines are placed on a depreciation schedule controlled by the province. The MD only receives taxes on the capital costs of the turbines, therefore once depreciated, the MD will face a loss.
A “Wind Energy Questionnaire” was sent out by the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 to gauge the public’s interest and concerns regarding the green energy before reviewing the wind energy development – an in-depth review that occurs every 3 years or “when 500 wind energy conversion systems have been constructed.”
The questionnaire seeks input on favourable areas for future development; ideas for additional environmental protections to be considered when reviewing development proposals; and ideas of new, or other, industries that could be potential sources of revenue that could supplement the MD while wind depreciates.
“We want to know what the residents of the MD think and want going forward,” Coun. Garry Marchuk said.
Results of a 2006 questionnaire illustrated a 90 per cent approval rating for the development of wind energy projects within the MD, and the most recent questionnaire asks its citizens if this opinion has since changed.
A few responses, and side comments, from the audience during the casual coffee event hinted this rating may be on the decline.
Currently, according to the questionnaire, 407 wind turbines have been approved within the MD. Of this, 235 are already installed and producing energy. The remaining 172, although approved, are awaiting installation.
Animals at large
Concerns of the number of dogs roaming free, in Lundbreck specifically, came up a few times from some peeved residents.
CAO Wendy Kay informed the audience that breached bylaw complaints can be brought forward to herself and development officer Roland Milligan.
Noise complaints regarding barking will also be brought to the MD’s attention. Kay explained that the RCMP will help to enforce bylaws on occasion, but only in certain circumstances.
Gophers were another problem animal brought forward to councillor’s attention. More specifically the gophers in Patton Park – or “Gopher hell,” as it was referred to by one citizen.
“Better yet, turn [Patton Park] into a golf course,” another resident joked. “You can get a hole-in-one everywhere.”
Castle Mountain Parks
Councillors and the public touched on the formation of the two provincial parks in the Castle area and how the MD can take advantage of this.
Reeve Hammond said it is a sign that the province is supporting the MD as they are determined to bring amenities, such as water, to Castle Mountain Resort.
“The government continues to go in circles because they want to know what ratepayers want,” Hammond said. “Hopefully the government will come through.”
Coun. Marchuk said encouraging tourism is the best bet the MD has to benefit from the Castle parks.
“Tourism has to be a long-term strategy,” he said, noting the preservation of the southern Alberta lifestyle is dependent on this adjustment.
Some in attendance said they worried the MD could potentially miss out on economic benefits of the two parks as tourists will stop, stay and shop in the town of Pincher Creek rather than the MD. Councillor Terry Yagos echoed this concern.
“Unless we have a hotel, the MD will be missing out,” he said.
Road signs and pavement
Missing road signs in Lundbreck pose an issue to some residents who felt it important to bring forward to councillors. Council suggested adding this to the public works department’s to-do list.
Other residents made comments about snow plowing, grading and gravelling and the lack of paved back roads.
Overall, the event was a success. In fact, some residents requested that Coffee with Council happens on a more regular basis, especially before the upcoming election.
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