By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Castor Advance
After yet another delegation to the County of Paintearth regarding aviation, the Land Use Bylaw, and the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), County of Paintearth chief administrative officer Michael Simpson has informed his council that he will no longer bring any further requests forward to council.
Ratepayers living within the area of the Halkirk 2 Wind Project presented to council during the Aug. 17 meeting, requesting that council make some amendments prior to adopting the MDP.
In particular, the couple was again asking council to consider bringing in a 1500-metre setback for residents not participating in the Halkirk-2 Wind Power Project, placing in the plan limits on any further electrical infrastructure in the river valley or the Paintearth Valley, incorporating elements of Transport Canada TP 1247E into the plan, and discussing lack of representation on council in their area.
Coun. Maurice Wiart was against the proposed changes, asking the delegation why they should be able to control other people’s properties.
“At what point do you control other people’s land?” said Wiart.
“One thousand metres still gives someone a right to do something. That’s what we thought was fair as a council. At some point we have to make a decision – 1000 metres is better than nothing.”
Due to operating a private aerodrome on their property northeast of Halkirk, the delegation also requested, again, that County council incorporates TP 1247E into the MDP.
“We have been repeatedly asked to write the recommendations of TP 1247E into our bylaw,” said Simpson.
“TP 1247E is a guideline, not a statute. If the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, aren’t willing to put that into law, why would the County do that, and potentially create havoc locally by giving any landowner the potential to create an aerodrome and sterilize all the land around it?”
Simpson continued that despite the delegation saying that the changes they want only affect wind-towers, that is not the case, and that the changes would limit the ability for other tall infrastructure, such as refinery stacks or broadband towers, to be placed around the County.
“I think if we go too much further down the road of writing everything that is guideline into law, nobody is going to want to see the tax bill,” said Simpson.
Another issue that the delegation addressed before council was that of representation in their ward.
With Deputy Reeve Doreen Blumhagen a participant in the wind project, she has recused herself from all council discussion surrounding the project. According to the delegation, ratepayers in the area feel that with this being the case, they have had no representation on council, something that Blumhagen takes issue with.
“You say you have no representation,” said Blumhagen.
“I disagree with that. We are elected by division, but we represent the whole County. I don’t just do what’s best for my division. I do what’s best for the County.”
Since the delegation has presented to council multiple times on the same issues, with little to no new information, Simpson has informed council that unless directed by council motion, he will not put this issue on any further council meeting agendas.
“You’ve been sending hundreds of emails over the last four years. You’ve denigrated myself and my staff,” said Simpson to the delegation.
“This is the last time I will put this on the agenda for discussion. Council believes we have provided you with a satisfactory consultant to do research, research undertaken at your request to make sure we are getting the right information. The new Land Use Bylaw gives great consideration for TP 1247E, which was not there in the previous bylaw.”
After the delegation departed, council passed the second and third readings of the new Municipal Development Plan bylaw, with no further amendments.