Wind energy project request denied

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A request from a ratepayer regarding a proposed wind energy project was denied by the M.D. of Smoky River at its Oct. 14 meeting.

The Hockey family lives beside the proposed development in the northwest of the M.D. Their request, which involves increasing the distance from the project [wind towers] to their home, may have undesirable consequences because council may opt to go the opposite of their wishes after becoming aware of the issue.

The M.D.’s current bylaw states the distance must be at least 0.8 km or half a mile. The Hockey’s request is for 10 times the height of the tower.

CAO Rita Therriault suggested council pass first reading, then have a public hearing.

“Your ratepayers have a voice,” she told them.

Councillors quickly waded into the debate.

“It’s noisy,” said Councillor Donald Gosselin, of the towers.

However, within regulations, pointed out Therriault.

Councillor Donald Dumont favoured passing first reading and going to public hearing.

“Our bylaw is not excessive,” said Therriault.

“She [Hockey] is asking us to exceed our bylaw.”

The Hockey are suggesting 10 times the height of the tower. For example, a 200-metre tower would require a setback of 2,000 metres or two km.

Reeve Robert Brochu said council’s bylaw does not direct them on what to do with a larger development.

“Our bylaw says half a mile or if you go big, whichever is greater,” noted Councillor Andrew Trudeau.

“If it was in my backyard, get it out of my sight,” said Councillor Raoul Johnston, citing the constant noise.

Gosselin asked about the financial impact.

“Do we collect taxes?” he asked.

“It’s a big business,” replied Therriault.

“The guy who lives there doesn’t want it,” said Dumont.

Some councillors noted there were other locations where trouble wouldn’t arise.

“Put it on top of the riverbank,” said Trudeau.

Brochu was happy with the existing bylaw.

“The request is excessive,” added Therriault, noting if the setback had to be 1.5 miles, the developer could likely find no place in the entire M.D. to build.

“There’s lots of room by the Smoky [River],” countered Johnston.

“They’ve targeted that site,” said Dumont. “They’ve done their studies.”

“We don’t want to chase away business,” said Johnston.

“The Land-Use bylaw protects the people,” said Therriault. “That’s why I recommend the public hearing.”

Brochu disagreed.

“Amend it to five times the height of the tower like the rest of the province,” said Brochu, which would be 300 metres less than the M.D.’s current restriction.

Dumont agreed: half a mile or five times the height of the tower.

“That’s what we want to do,” said Brochu. “We’re refusing her [Hockey] request from 10 times. That’s not what council wants to do.”

Council did not make a motion to change its current restrictions but may do so in the future.

Gosselin noted many fowl die at such developments, adding the coyotes know so at Dawson Creek, and people in Ontario are hired to pick up dead birds each day.

The Hockeys could not be reached.

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