We are pleased to provide you with the following information:
Green Energy Projects: For a number of years the provincial government has encouraged the development of renewable energy (green energy) via the Green Energy Act (2009) and the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program. Green energy includes solar, wind, waterpower and bio-energy. The intent of the act was to remove barriers to the development of green energy, barriers which included municipal by-laws. Previous council passed a resolution which indicated the municipality’s support of green energy. At the same time it did not support the installation of wind turbines in the municipality, nor ground mount solar panels within the confines of the towns of Magnetawan or Ahmic Harbour.
Using the FIT program the province states a set amount of electricity produced via renewable sources will be purchased and a number of new contracts are made available each year. Individuals, companies and municipalities can apply to construct green energy generating facilities (solar panels, wind turbines, water turbines and bio-energy). Dependent on many factors a FIT contract may be awarded in which the applicant is guaranteed a specific price they will be paid for the electricity generated for a specific period of time. As part of the process applicants must confirm with municipalities how the property they intend to use is zoned, and also how abutting lands are zoned. Municipalities must provide this information. It should be noted that those owning the adjacent lands need not be notified. Applicants of FIT projects are awarded priority points to determine their position in the queue for available grid capacity. Several points are awarded if a municipality supports the application and therefore the applicants request such support. A council’s support, or lack of support, does not necessarily have bearing on the future construction of the project.
The program is not without its challenges and detractors. Municipal concerns include land and water use, the aesthetics of the projects, potential site rehabilitation years later and the process involved in the awarding of the contracts. Of particular concern to many is the lack of provision regarding public notice and consultation in the application process. The Municipality of Magnetawan, similar to many other jurisdictions in the province, is currently developing a Fit Application protocol which will determine how applications will be reviewed. This protocol can require the applicant to detail how the community may benefit and that adjacent property owners acknowledge and sign off the request. The municipality can also assign a cost to supplying the mandatory zoning information however the cost must be considered
reasonable and not a barrier to green energy development.
The challenges are many. While most would agree electricity is a necessity
many also feel it should not be created by nuclear or coal or gas or solar or
wind or water nor in one’s back yard dependent on one’s viewpoint. The
municipality must be supportive of and encourage development, must
recognize and respect the desires of private landowners to make economic
decisions regarding their land and must balance these against the needs and wants of the municipality as a whole. The intent of this update is to inform our residents about the FIT program. It is by no means complete and we encourage you to seek out additional information. Sources include www.energy.gov.on.ca and www.fit.powerauthority.on.ca
Economic Development: Our municipality, together with Kearney, Perry and McMurrich/Monteith, has been successful in obtaining a provincial grant towards the hiring of a Community Development Officer Intern for one year. Our councils are now in the process of recruiting that person. At the same time we are also at work on a regional Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) project sponsored by the provincial government involving thirteen municipalities in the area. Every business in our municipality, whether home based or having a commercial operation, has the opportunity to participate in this program. This is a no-cost program to area businesses that will enable us to identify the needs and challenges of our existing businesses. The intent is to directly contact as many businesses as possible however don’t wait to be put on the list. We would appreciate hearing of your interest. Please email Tim Brunton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (705) 571-6165.
Public Works: Shortly our road crews will be dealing with inclement weather as they work to keep our roads open and safe to travel. While the province is responsible for highways 124, 510 and 520 our municipality has 218 kilometres of roads to be plowed, or as plow operators define it, 536 lane kilometers. Public Works monitors the weather using information provided by Environment Canada and a commercial forecasting business sourcing data as close as Burks Falls. As the snow depth approaches two inches four plow trucks, with a single back up in case of breakdowns, will be getting ready to roll. Each truck has a defined route which the driver follows. These have been developed based on years of experience and efficiency with priority assigned to school bus routes for enhanced safety. Our drivers may be hitting the road as early as 2:30 am with some routes taking as long as ten hours to complete a single pass. Drivers are legally limited to a maximum number of hours driven. In case of emergencies Public Works has established back up assistance with two area firms should they be needed. The entire team works diligently to provide the community with safe roads and appreciates your patience during the inevitable storms that are sure to come this winter.
As winter approaches and furnace and wood stove use increases be sure to check the operation of your smoke alarms and CO detectors (they are now the law in every home that contains a fuel burning appliance). Also have your chimney checked for excessive creosote build up.
Your ideas, suggestions, questions and comments are welcomed.
Sam Dunnett Tim Brunton Jack Crossman
Charlie Gray John Hetherington