Spending South Dundas wind turbine money outside affected areas an option, mayor says

In this March 2015, file photo, South Dundas Mayor Evonne Delegarde shakes the hand of EDP Renewables Project Manager Ken Little. The township wants to explore loosening the rules on a community fund designated for the host areas of the turbines in South Dundas. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SOUTH DUNDAS – The township will be exploring with EDP Renewables whether it can loosen criteria on a fund designed for the communities hosting wind turbines.

The South Branch Community Fund is a $30,000 a year benefit fund, designed for projects on municipality-owned land in the designated areas of Dixons Corners, Dundela and Brinston.

Last month, the committee overseeing the fund rejected the only application it received for the 2016 round of money – for fencing on the Sprucehaven Cemetery – because it’s not on municipal property.

During last week’s council meeting, a number of South Dundas councillors expressed a lot of “grief” with the EDP Renewables fund.

The mayor elaborated on that frustration in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

“I think the perception was that anyone could put in an application and as a result we received a lot of personal applications for organizations, such as the churches and private groups and private committees that wasn’t really the intent of (what) this community fund was for,” Evoone Delegarde said.

The mayor says the Dundela project to add a skating rink building was a “perfect fit for the type of funding that EDP has earmarked for each year.”

As of last month, there was just under $32,000 in the EDP fund not spoken for.

The mayor says there’s “been a lot of conversation on the fund” but doesn’t believe the residents are ill-informed about how it works. “The message is out there but it’s whether somebody wants to bring forward a proposal towards a municipal property. But we have to know what the residents want. Do they want a playground? Do they want a splash pad, as an example? Do they want more recreational facilities in our parks? We don’t know. We can go put something but if they don’t want (it), we might as well take advantage of the opportunity with the EDP funds to put in a project and facility that the residents want.”

“There is only so much municipally-owned land in that area.”

The township wants to meet with EDP Renewables soon about cracking open the four-year-old agreement and possibly changing the criteria.

Delegarde told CNW, spending the money outside the three designated areas may be an option.

“Well, and that could be the conversation. There is opportunity in those three specific areas that the municipality owns (Dundela, Dixons Corners, Brinston) for the money to be spent on and, if it doesn’t happen that way, then we can expand the area but that would be in agreement with EDP as well,” the mayor said.

Delegarde said the area to be covered by the EDP money was originally larger than what it is now but the “council of the day” confined the money to a smaller footprint.

An exact meeting date has not been set.

Phone calls to EDP Renewables Project Manager Ken Little were not returned.