The first all-candidates meeting was held in Perth Road on Sept 17. Among other topics discussed was expanding South Frontenac’s economy.
Expanding the economy in a small rural community can take many forms, but a good place to start is recognizing one of our strengths: we have a higher percentage of skilled trades living in our area than the provincial average. Most residents also have a strong desire to maintain the Township’s rural character.
Since the all-candidates meeting I have canvassed more residents with interesting local economic development initiatives. One family, who has a lovely house with multiple solar panels, keeps close track of his electricity consumption and production. He uses electricity for all his household needs, including air conditioning and heating. Over the last couple of years he has produced 6,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity per year than he consumes. Thanks to his solar panels, he receives over 800 dollars income every month for his energy production.
Just down the road another property owner has been approached by three multinational solar farm companies who promised to pay him a million dollars to install tens of acres of solar installations. The property owner had questions about the security of payment and decommissioning but is interested in using his scrub land for a solar farm. I have put him in touch with Wintergreen Energy Cooperative, a local solar development cooperative to discuss some other options.
Our area also has many families doing amazing work on local energy conservation, raising the possibility that our Township could become a net exporter of electricity. This would lower hydro costs, create many skilled jobs and increase revenue to the area. It could be an amazing demonstration of the benefits of decentralized rural power production coupled with energy conservation.
I have also talked with a number of farmers who are starting to make significant income from local market gardening.
These area initiatives are economic development that works well with the rural character of the riding. They utilize many of the skills we already have, increase Township revenue and help us meet some of the challenges we face in the near future.