I was skeptical of the process, but South Frontenac has a new strategic plan and I think it will be good for South Frontenac. The new strategic plan adds weight to four forward-looking concerns:
- More resident engagement in council decisions: both information out to residents and greater opportunities for residents to be involved in the discussion;
- Greater protection lakes and wetlands;
- A recognition of climate change and a commitment to support more energy conservation and renewable energy;
- The strengthening the hamlets.
These new initiatives build on our commitment to a fiscally responsible township that delivers good services. While the strategic plan is not binding, it gives staff and Councillors issues to address when they are developing policy.
On top of the two large solar farms, each near or over 100 acres, in the last month we have had applications for 14 FIT projects: projects that typically occupy between 5 and 7 acres and produce under 500 kilowatts of power.
These projects are scattered around the township. I took the opportunity to visits many residents in Loughborough who live beside the proposed projects. Their main concerns were: the view, they did not want to look at even a small field of solar panels; pesticide use in controlling weeds; and, some specific concerns about harm to roads and lanes. I have raised these concerns with the developers. I have also proposed that we have a processing fee of 300 dollars for each project due to the staff time necessary to review the developments and bring motions to Council. Council has chosen, correctly in my mind, to review each project individually, rather than approve, in advance, all small solar developments.
As much as I support the transition to renewable energy, solar developments, as all developments, should be subject to community scrutiny and expected to reasonably accommodate community concerns.
The real problem we are facing is that a lot happening very quickly. Some guidance to local municipalities on what provincial regulations will require of small solar developments, how they will be enforced, what would be reasonable fees to change solar developers, and what would be reasonable financial agreements, or at least factors to consider, when negotiating long-term agreements with the large solar farms, would have made our job easier.
A provincially coordinated approach would also keep municipalities from competing against each other, reduce uncertainly for developers, and limit the strain on local staff resources when many of the issues are predictable and province wide. Small municipalities are also at a disadvantage when negotiating with the well-financed large corporations that are privileged in the process.
The Public Works manager has reported back that a reasonable guess at our local waste diversion rate is about 24%. This rate would be close to the provincial average, but it is worth noting that Ontario has the third worst recycling average in Canada. PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are all over 35%. Kingston diverts 56% of its garbage.
Council is concerned about these low numbers. I have proposed a subcommittee of Councillors and residents to work with the Public Works Department to develop a plan to increase the amount of waste diverted from the dumps. No action has yet been taken.
Sydenham Parking and Water
Over the next few months Sydenham will be receiving lots of attention. Staff will be bringing forward recommendations on Sydenham’s water system and, at the last Committee of the Whole, a proposal for parking restrictions and enforcement in the hamlet was presented. A public meeting on parking will be held over the summer.
Cycle Fest – June 7, 10-3, at Loughborough Public School
This free event, open to all member of the community, will celebrate cycling in South Frontenac. It is designed for young cyclists who can participate in the cycling skills course and for more seasoned road trippers. Everyone can enjoy the free BBQ after a morning of good cycling.
Road Repair and Speed Limits
The Public Works Department has produced a five-year plan for road repairs and a proposal for speed reductions on 20 roads. Call me to see if your road is affected or go to the May 26 Committee of the Whole Agenda on the Townships website: https://southfrontenac.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=14654
I would like to know your opinion on any of the above issues as well as any other concerns you may have. Please give me a call, 613-532-7846, or send me an email.
I look forward to seeing you around the township.