By Sue Tiffin
Published May 23 2017
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a May 17 meeting of Highlands East council.
Rob Hitchcock business development manager for Abundant Solar Energy Inc. made a delegation to council regarding a proposed solar project at Lot 30-32 Concession 10 in Cardiff.
The project is part of the province’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program initially launched in 2009.
Hitchcock was responding to a May 2 letter from Andrew Martin director of Camp Can-Aqua regarding concerns about the project which is roughly 4.5 acres in size.
In the letter Martin said he learned of the proposed solar field project only after receiving a registered letter on March 13 from the Toronto-based Abundant Solar Inc.
“I was unprepared for the news I was uncertain of the outcome and I was confused” said Martin. “How could my township completely disregard me lacking the courtesy to even contact the camp and ask how we felt?”
Hitchcock said since receiving the letter he had had discussions with Martin regarding the project to better explain the process of the FIT4 stage of the program.
“There are a bunch of rules and regulations that we follow to step through the program which is a very protracted slow-moving cumbersome process” said Hitchcock.
Within the process projects approved by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) must work through several approval and assessment stages that mean projects can take about two and a half years from contract approval to build.
Upon approval the build happens quickly over weeks rather than years.
Hitchcock said Martin received the letter from Abundant Solar Energy as per the process steps when the company sent almost 1000 letters to property owners near about 60 similar proposed projects in Ontario.
Out of 950 letters Hitchcock said the company received just three responses regarding concerns or questions about the project. Martin who did not attend the council meeting but offered the letter for discussion made note of the proximity of the solar project to Camp Can-Aqua’s main entrance and development of a full-service sugar shack and winter activity park.
In his delegation and in phone conversations with Martin Hitchcock explained there are significant regulations in the project including visual screening requirements.
Councillors looked closely at a map of the area and proposed project site provided by Hitchcock.
He noted the company would be happy to work with the camp to do some educational programming about renewable energy and could also do so with the municipality including the installation of a screen at the library that would show a running total of carbon dioxide displaced as a result of the solar project.
Councillor Cec Ryall suggested the possibility of a walk-through of the project which Hitchcock fully supported.
“There are lots of altruistic reasons we’re doing what we’re doing” Hitchcock said. “There are lots of win-win possibilities there with the camp.”
As the project progresses Hitchcock will return to council toward the end of summer for next steps.
Red Cross Outpost roof
The Red Cross Outpost roof tender awarded to Basil Cox & Sons earlier in the month has been rescinded and offered instead to Algonquin Roofing Inc. after Basil Cox & Sons was unable to provide proper Fall Arrest and Working at Heights certificate documentation.
“They didn’t realize it was outdated” said Jim Alden property supervisor.
Algonquin Roofing Inc. bid $7819 for the project compared to Basil Cox & Sons’ $6667 bid. Five bids were received for the project in April ranging from $6667 to $10686.
Haliburton Trail Riders
Council was supportive of discussing the possibility of entering a land use agreement for the use of the derby pit area in Gooderham Park with the Haliburton Trail Riders.
Complaints have been received regarding bikes in the area which is a no-biking zone.
“I can speak to this [as] a resident in the area this is a group of youth that enjoy bike riding” said Shannon Hunter Highlands East CAO. “I don’t find them destructive. They’re riding in what was formerly the derby pit.”
If an agreement is reached the Haliburton Trail Riders a volunteer-run non-profit off-road motorcycle club would provide insurance needed for the use of the area.
Because recreational dirt biking is considered high-risk the club would need insurance with $5 million liability. Hunter also recommended a site plan.
“We’re not going to stop it so it’s better to manage it” said Councillor Joan Burton.
“Obviously I support it because I’ve been fighting for it” said Councillor Cec Ryall who recommended further discussions around logistics of the agreement.
Hunter later praised the youth saying they’re “a good group of kids using the area for recreational activities.”