GUYSBOROUGH — At the first committee of the whole meeting in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) following the summer break on Sept. 6, council and staff heard from two residents regarding their concerns over potential windfarm development in their area.
Lesley Hartt and Marsha Plant live in St. Francis Harbour and spoke on their concerns about the proposed EverWind Fuels windfarms slated for construction in the municipality.
Plant addressed the committee first and spoke about the environmental footprint of the project, including clear cutting of the land needed to erect an estimated 300 turbines, and the impact on protected species such as mainland moose and the piping plover. She also noted that, although the wind was carbon-free, turbine production and operation is not.
“The bottom line...I don’t think it’s a good project for Guysborough County ....and I don’t think there should be any area of this county that should be used as a sacrificial zone for any part of this project,” Plant concluded.
Hartt brought concerns of not only the environmental impact, but also the possible negative impacts on residents’ health, property assessments, water quality and ambient sound. She also said that she has gotten very little response to the inquiries about the project she has made to EverWind.
Following the presentations, MODG Warden Pitts said the women had raised a number of issues that he was not aware of, and he would further examine those points. But, he added, the Crown land lease and approval of the project fell under provincial jurisdiction and the municipality, “can’t overrule the province.”
Following the warden’s comments, department reports were given during which time MODG CAO Barry Carroll gave an update on the MODG’s doctor recruitment financial incentive program that offers $100,000 to doctors that agree to provide five years of service in the municipality.
Carroll said a fourth grant has been allocated to an area resident who is in medical school, who has signed an agreement to return to the MODG following her training in three years’ time. He added that there were still two grants left for any qualified applicant.
Director of Finance Danita Imlay reported that the low-income tax exemption has seen increased uptake in the last year, when the threshold for qualification was raised from $25,000 to $35,000 and the amount granted rose from $100 to $200.
“We received 124 applications last year and this year we received 173 approved applications. We still have 13 that are sitting in limbo right now, waiting for CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) backup for them. Because of the strike, there are some delays in processing some of the notice assessments,” said Imlay.
Development Officer Debbie Torrey gave her report, noting that there was a big jump in building permits this year. She said, “There’s a lot of construction activity going on. We’re well ahead of last year...There’s lots going on and, if people could find contractors, there’d be a lot more I think.”
Director of Public Works Glen Avery gave his report starting with news from Canso that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had awarded the contract for the new boat launch near the recently constructed kiosks on the waterfront.
Also, near Canso, in Hazel Hill, Avery said the Commercial Cable project has been slowed by the wet summer.
Following his report, Councillor Paul Long asked Avery for a progress report on sidewalk construction in the village in Guysborough.
Avery said the project would go into November, with the section connecting New Road and the shopping plaza completed in September, the portion along Queen Street to Church Street completed by the end of October and the final section towards the hospital slated for completion by the end of November.
“There’s been a number of issues, not only the wet weather but Shaw Concrete didn’t provide structures on time...so that was a holdback. They were jumping around and people were probably wondering why...Wet weather is slowing down pretty much everything,” added Avery in his comments about the sidewalk project.
Avery also brought forward the recent proposal to erect streetlights in the Giants Lake area. He said 57 areas were identified for lighting in the area from Giants Lake to Highway 7.
“We did send out the petition [for lights] to all the community. Our return rate was only 31 per cent, which is a lot lower than we typically have...13 voted in favour...and 10 voted against...and three were returned to sender,” said Avery.
Based on those numbers, the municipality will move forward with the erection of streetlights in the Giants Lake area.
In her report, Director of Recreation Angie Tavares noted that the soccer season during the summer months had seen the Steve Smith Soccer Field in Guysborough host a tournament almost every weekend. She also noted that a new co-ed touch football team, the Guysborough County Seahawks, has been formed and was slated to begin practice that week.
Gordon MacDonald, director of economic development, reported that the MODG was in the final stages of acquiring the Sable gas plant property from Exxon-Mobil in Goldboro.
MODG’s newest employee was also introduced at the committee of the whole meeting; Sean O’Connor has been hired as a business development officer.