Breitbach says council
has been "gagged"
by Armow Wind agreement
By Liz Dadson
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Kincardine council has been effectively "gagged" by a development agreement with Samsung Renewable Energy (Samsung) and Pattern Energy Group LP (Pattern Development).
That's the word from Karen Breitbach of Kincardine who was responding to council's response to her initial letter regarding the Armow Wind agreement which will provide $12.6-million for local initiatives over the next 20 years, and $1-million for the Kincardine Airport.
In committee-of-the-whole Wednesday night, chief administrative officer Murray Clarke had prepared written responses to questions posed by councillor Jacqueline Faubert in a motion and by Breitbach in a letter.
In his responses, Clarke outlined the following:
With respect to Breitbach's letter, Clarke states that it suggests the Armow Wind agreement places excessive restrictions on council's ability to determine how community benefit funds would be applied.
"Staff's view is just the opposite," stated Clarke. "Section 14 of the agreement allows a great deal of discretion in the use and distribution of community benefit funds."
"I think staff has presented the information very well and provided good clarification," said deputy mayor Anne Eadie. "People forget that the province's Green Energy Act took away much of our municipal authority over industrial wind turbine developments.
"We have no authority to negotiate anything but we did negotiate and made some substantial gains regarding the project."
She said the collection lines will be buried which was a major problem for nearby residents in the Ripley Wind project. "And we have protected our buffer zones for future growth. If we're weighing gains and losses, I think we have a solid gain in protecting some of our interests."
Faubert said her reason for bringing forward the motion was to garner information so everyone knows why the development agreement was done the way it was.
"I still have some concerns about the clarity of the agreement," she said. "Never in our term of office have I seen an agreement that, litigiously, is so scary."
She said the community benefit program is still very confusing; and there are still questions about what advice was needed for the agreement to be discussed in closed session.
Breitbach was allowed 10 minutes to respond to council's response to the questions about the agreement.
She maintained that the agreement has, in fact, relinquished council's freedom to enact any bylaw that could restrict Armow Wind's operations without repercussions.
As she questioned what "staff" was negotiating for the municipality, mayor Larry Kraemer replied that, under council's direction, Clarke was acting on behalf of the municipality. That decision was made six weeks before the negotiations took place, and all of council knew that, he said.
"My major issue is the manner in which this agreement was procedurally processed without public input," said Breitbach. "That's totally disrespectful of the people impacted by the Armow Wind project."
She said she understands the rationale that Kincardine should negotiate for some community benefit rather than nothing.
As Breitbach asked questions regarding repercussions if council continues on the municipal coalition for a noise bylaw, and regarding airport safety and liability if an airplane were to hit a turbine, Kraemer explained that she was asking questions that council has never discussed so there are no answers to them.
Clarke said the municipality has no authority over airport safety or traffic. That is all federally regulated.
Faubert said the agreement is very daunting and there are ongoing questions that need answers.
"There is definitely room to open up the bylaw and have another look at it," said Breitbach, "rather than fighting each other."
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© Liz Dadson
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Sunday, July 13, 2014