MNBP Council Reverses Previous Council’s Policy, Votes to Support Two Solar Power Installations

By John Francis

At the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula’s May 13 Meeting, a delegation from Moose Power Inc presented on behalf of two local landowners, asking for Site Plan Control agreements to permit site preparation (tree removal) for solar power installations under the (now defunct) Feed-In Tariff program.
The previous Council had on four occasions refused to cooperate with landowners who wished to install solar facilities under the FIT program. The outcome this time was different.
After receiving assurances that the installations, both on Cherry Hill Road, would not be on farmland and would not be visible from roads or nearby houses, Council requested a Staff Report for the May 27 Meeting. Councillor Smokey Golden said she couldn’t see why there would be huge objections to the proposal. “I’m a big fan of solar power,” she continued, noting she is not in favour of wind power but there should not be roadblocks here for solar. No one voiced an opposing view.
Here is the motion from the Staff Report that was presented on May 27:
“THAT Council acknowledges Resolutions #21-13-2015 and #27-12-2016 wherein the 2014-2018 Council declined issuing Letters of Support for four (4) proposed ground mounted solar projects in this Municipality;
AND THAT Council further recognizes that the 2014-2018 Council declined support in 2015 and 2016 on the basis that there appeared to be concern from the public that supporting any “green energy” project would or could be perceived as some kind of support in general for wind energy as well;
AND THAT Council has examined this request on its own merit and has chosen the following option:
1) Not align with the resolutions of the 2014-2018 Council and support entering into site plan control with the property owners
2) Deny the request to enter into site plan control until such time as staff is able to provide Council with sufficient information in support of the request to enter site plan control.”
CAO Bill Jones noted that it is up to the proponents to prove to the Ministry of the Environment that the land was being utilized as a farm operation.
Councillor Megan Myles began by disagreeing with the choices made by the previous Council. She spoke enthusiastically in favour of renewable energy sources in general and these projects in particular. They offer mitigation of climate change and revenue for landowners. She supported option #1, asking that Council not align with the previous Council. Councillor Golden concurred, recommending Option #1. “I’m good with it,” announced Councillor Jamie Mielhausen.
Deputy Mayor Debbie Myles, who had been silent up to this point, requested a recorded vote on both motions. Councillor Golden asked if she wished to speak to the motions but Deputy Mayor Myles said she did not.
Both motions passed 4-1 with Deputy Mayor Myles casting the dissenting vote.
There are no other FIT applications “in the pipe” for Northern Bruce Peninsula and the program has been cancelled, so there will be no further commercial solar installations in MNBP.