A lengthy Council meeting on November 14 opened with the approval of meeting minutes from several past meetings, before jumping into a public meeting regarding a property in South Mountain. The subject property was formerly used as a medical office, and was zoned as a commercial space with an exception to allow partial residential use. The building is currently being used as a multi-residential unit, with the zoning by-law amendment request being made in the hopes of “legalizing” what is already taking place, similar to what has occurred with a few Chesterville properties recently.
The proposal for the property to be rezoned as residential (first density) did not generate any comments from members of the public or the applicant. Deputy Mayor Theresa Bergeron made a comment about the proposal, stating her view that it would be a positive change for South Mountain, given the addition of smaller residential spaces available for rent.
Following the public meeting, some routine business was dealt with and some delegations were heard, including a rather lengthy presentation from the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre, which works with individual municipal economic development offices and local stakeholders to promote tourism and new business in the Cornwall and SD&G region.
Next, a presentation was given regarding the Marionville Energy Storage Project, a proposed initiative by a company called Baseload Power. The project would see the addition of a Battery Energy Storage System to a five acre property in Marionville. Such a system is designed to collect and store excess energy from the power grid at night, so that it can be redistributed at peak periods of the day. Council heard that the project would provide benefits for the Township, including recurring community benefit payments and tax revenue, the use of local service providers, the strengthening of the local power grid, and the potential for the stored energy to help in a power outage.
Since Battery Energy Storage Systems are prone to electrolyte leakage venting, and can potentially be susceptible to fires, explosions, and the release of toxic gases, Councillor Gary Annable had some tough questions for the Baseload Power presenter. Councillor Annable asked whether the site would be monitored 24/7 by a “warm body on site”, as opposed to remote monitoring, and the presenter confirmed that there would usually be someone local on site, or at least nearby and on call. Councillor Annable then expressed his concern that he didn’t feel that a meeting which was held on November 10 gave an adequate opportunity for all those who live near the site to be heard. The presenter admitted that Baseload Power officials “lost control of the meeting” in terms of knowing who was in attendance (due to a lack of knowledge of the local population).
Councillor Annable ultimately stated his lack of support for the project, telling the Baseload Power representative, “I know the Province has to do something, but I’m not sure this is the right move.” Councillor Matthew Uhrig took a strong stance as well, stating that he does not agree with Baseload Power’s so-called “trust us approach”, where approval must be given before studies are done and questions are answered. “There’s much more that needs to be done… much more that we collectively as a province need to know,” added Councillor Uhrig. Fire Chief Kreg Raistrick added a comment that a fire at a Battery Energy Storage System facility would burn 12 times longer than a typical house fire, which raises safety concerns for fire officials. The proposal was ultimately deferred.
After a brief break for a closed session portion of the meeting, Council next heard some reports regarding Township financial matters. Council passed a motion authorizing the borrowing of capital required to finance important infrastructure projects.
Following some other routine business, a request came before Council for the Morewood Recreation Association to become a Committee of Council. After a few positive comments from members of Council, the motion was passed. Next, Council voted to support an official plan amendment for the rezoning of a property on Kittle Road.
Council was then tasked with considering an increase to some of the municipal fines for parking violations. The motion also provided OPP officers with authority to enforce related by-laws, following a request from the OPP to be given this authority. The motion passed.
The lengthy meeting went on for almost four hours. No other meetings have taken place since.