New bylaw about to blow into Ponoka County

Wind could soon change the landscape on the eastern side of Ponoka County if a power project eventually comes to fruition.

Wind could soon change the landscape on the eastern side of Ponoka County if a power project eventually comes to fruition.

At their meeting on March 22, Ponoka County council passed first reading of a new bylaw that would regulate the placement and other items surrounding wind power in the region, something that has become a necessity with a Quebec-based company looking into constructing a project in an area just east of Ponoka.

CAO Charlie Cutforth recommended council look at adopting a bylaw to deal with land use issues that has been patterned after one approved by the Municipal District of Provost, which has already seen changes made due to legal challenges and having sections overridden by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC).

“The primary concern that needs to be dealt with is the 1.6 kilometre separation between a tower and any occupied residences,” Cutforth told council.

“In Provost, the company came to an agreement with the landowner, but their neighbours didn’t want it nearby; then the county denied the company’s permit application. However, the AUC overturned that decision, but agreed to the setback provision.”

Cutforth added the bylaw will work in a similar way to the one that placed regulations on the confined feeding operations in the county, where provincial regulations can also override local bylaws so there is a need to be aware of that.

“The hope is with this bylaw that it will address the immediate concerns of the landowners,” he stated.

Reeve Paul McLauchlin believes this is the right direction to go.

“There is already a precedence set with Provost having gone through this process. It will help advance the goals of attracting projects and helping landowners, but it will also deal with the concerns of our residents,” he said.

The bylaw will be back before council later in April.