EDP fund committee should have bigger role: St. Pierre

South Dundas Coun. Marc St. Pierre, seen here during an October 2015 council meeting, believes the South Branch Community Fund committee should have more power in administering the $30,000 annual fund. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SOUTH DUNDAS – A township councillor believes the committee overseeing the South Branch Community Fund should be more than an approval body for ideas.

“(It’s) another level of democracy,” Marc St. Pierre opined Tuesday night, as he suggested the terms of reference for the committee overseeing the $30,000 a year community fund from EDP Renewables be revamped to allow the administrative body to put ideas to council.

The money is yearly compensation for the communities of Dundela, Dixons Corners and Brinston that are hosting wind turbines.

Right now, community members have to put an application together and the committee – which is made up mostly of community members – acts as a broker between the community and council.

Several members of council have expressed frustration and “grief” with the fund because of a lack of successful applications. Part of that is due to the type of applications being received, which are not meeting the criteria for the fund.

Coun. Archie Mellan agreed with St. Pierre the committee should be able to do more. “If there is a community project and they (the committee) want to run with it, run with it,” Mellan said.

“Hopefully we can get past this hurdle,” Deputy Mayor Jim Locke added.

The South Branch Community Fund committee holds a brainstorming session tomorrow night (April 20) at 6:30 p.m. at Matilda Hall to talk about ideas, including possible upgrades to Brinston park.

Members of EDP Renewables, who were at Tuesday night’s council meeting, didn’t seem to be opposed to the suggestion from Coun. Mellan to give the committee more clout by allowing to take community ideas and put the applications together.

“I’ve been hearing from people around Brinston, you know, I don’t want to bother with the application process,” Mellan said.

“We really don’t have specification on the application process, so that would actually sit with council and the committee itself on the terms of reference,” said Ken Little, spokesman for EDP Renewables.

“Certainly, when we’re talking about the committee’s decisions about how to structure the terms of reference, typically we wouldn’t have objection if there was another way of doing that as long as the process is still fair and open,” Little said.

While there was discussion on changing the terms of reference, council took no formal action Tuesday night.

After the committee’s brainstorming session Wednesday, the next South Branch Community Fund meeting is May 10, 2016.

EDP Renewables has also suggested hosting a workshop the first week of May – likely May 4 – to help with applications ahead of the May 20, 2016 deadline for applications for the latest round of money.