A petition with 312 signatures was presented to County of Paintearth councillors at their regular meeting on Tues. Dec. 4 in regards to County Land Use Bylaw regarding the development of wind farms.
Petitioners asked that an amendment to the minimum separation distances for wind turbines from dwellings on any land not leased for wind energy developments the greater of 1.5 kilometers or as meets AUC Rule 12 ‘Noise Control’ permitted levels.
Dwayne Felzien began his presentation stating they are in favour of viable and sustainability however cited that eight of the wind towers for the Halkirk #2 are scheduled to be located on land that is currently described by the County of Paintearth as Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA’s).
Also, he added, that there are 18 towers and one substation that is to be located on Federal and Provincial ESA’s.
Felzien in his presentation noted that there are more regulations for ratepayers to develop an acreage and noted that in his recent experience, a landowner could not encroach on an ESA, and yet, industry was approved to do it.
Wind farms are not a regulated industry, said Felzien. There is no regulations in place that once the wind tower is past it’s usefulness to return the land to it’s former condition as it is for oil and gas companies and coal mines.
Felzien asked that the County update their ESA information since it has not been updated since 1997 as there are three to six different projects in the wind for the County.
In his presentation of the petition, Felzien noted according to Stats Canada figures that the population of the County is 2102 but there are only 1630 population that are over 18 and can vote. Of the 1630, 1370 are between the ages of 15 – 64 years and 260 are 65 or older.
Donna Fetaz told council that 35 residents living around the Halkirk #1 project have signed the petition, 30 residents in the Halkirk #2 project who have no contracts signed and 13 who have contracts, signed and the remaining 234 were scattered in other parts of the County.
Chief Administrative Officer, Tarolyn Aaersud accepted the petition and told the delegation present that she now had 45 days to determine if the petition was in order.
Although the petition was only circulated for approximately three weeks instead of the 90 days allowed, the group felt it important it go before council before the Christmas season.
Alberta Utilities Commission is holding a hearing in Red Deer for Capital Power’s application and will then have 90 days to render their decision which is then followed up with a County’s hearing likely in March.
County council motioned to right off $1.5 million in tax arrears for the purpose of now being able to apply to the province for a refund of the Education Requisition portion will amount to $130,000 credit as per an earlier announcement by the government. Most of the tax arrears were oil and gas companies.
The Provincial Education Requisition Credit (PERC) program was set up by the Alberta government with $10 million for this purpose.
Coun. Doreen Blumhagen asked to revisit the social media motion regarding Facebook, to include administration gathering information from other muncipalities of the same size as to their social media experiences.
Both Hewitt and George Glazier enlightened council on concerns they had heard in their attendance at meetings that included discussions with other municipalities over their experiences.
CAO Aasured will bring back a cost versus benefits analysis to the next meeting on cost concerns expressed by Coun. Tyrill Hewitt.
Coun. Blumhagen noted that there is already a Paintearth site on Facebook that was not created by county administration.
“Our media, I’m kinduv fond of, I’m partial to opening the paper,” said Reeve Stan Schulmeister.
“I’d hate to see our local paper go by the wayside”
“It’s not to replace our local papers,” said Coun. Norton “I think we are over thinking this.”
Councillors agreed to send a letter to all levels of government requesting support for the personal property losses many municipalities faced in the fires, citing the the loss that the reeve of Acadia Valley who lost all his cattle, grain, etc.
They will also support the expansion campaign by Red Deer Regional Hospital for desperately needed increase in infrastructure and service capacity.
Council approved an interim budget for 2018.
“We need $100 million of new assessment every year to keep our nose above water,” said CAO Aaserud, due to the current economic state of the County’s assessment decreasing by approximately $50 million.
In the written budget highlights presented to council, it stated that at the 2017 mill rates, this will result in an additional loss of tax revenues of approximately $700,0000 for 2018.
The expenditure variances by department showed an increase for 2018 of $217,436 with the biggest increase in Public Works for an additional $100,000 for repairs and maintenance, $74,000 for a new GPS equipment, an increase for an additional 6.5 miles of MG30 on RR151 south of Hwy 12 and a decrease of $255,000 for Tangible Capital Assets on the loss on the sale of the Jaw Crusher.
Fire is decreased this year by $3,983 however Ambulance which did not have an allocation in 2017 showed an increase of $9,091 in the budget highlights.
Requisitions decreased by $20,000 because AHS took over the Coronation Assisted Living but a $30,000 contribution to Paintearth Economic Partnership Society (PEPS) was added.
PEPS was not financed by the municipalities last year but had been in previous years, according to CAO Aaserud.
In planned projects for 2018, all amounts remain the same except the gravel program which has increased by $89,400 for purchasing $30,000 additional tonne and crushing from the Lone Pine pit, as there was more there than first thought.
Following an in-camera, council denied the request from Avila Equipment and Development Ltd., negotiating to purchase assets owned by Quattro Exploration and Production Ltd. who are in receivership located in the county to the unsecured amount of taxes of #36,740.94 be cancelled and the taxes on the building, structures, mechanical and equipment of $11,967.09 will be paid.
Avila listed continuation of income for the County, support local businesses in the region and landowners income from surface and mineral leases would be a benefit as reasons for their request of the write-off.
In another matter discussed in camera, council motioned to delay the signing of the Mutual Aid Agreement with ATCO Power.
The Mutual Aid Agreement is an agreement among emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries which could occur due to an emergency response that exceeds local resources, such as a disaster or a multi-alarm fire.