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Proposed solar farm receives important approval

Rocky View County (RVC) council’s unanimous decision to grant third reading to a site-specific land use amendment has paved the way for the future creation of the largest solar farm in Canada, according to a County press release.
Sourcing the sun
Rocky View County (RVC) council gave third reading to a site-specific land use amendment Feb. 26 that will allow a proposed solar farm, which RVC says will be the largest in Canada, to apply for a development permit.

Rocky View County (RVC) council’s unanimous decision to grant third reading to a site-specific land use amendment has paved the way for the future creation of the largest solar farm in Canada, according to a County press release. “This is the first step in an exciting, forward-thinking project for the County and the entire region” said Reeve Greg Boehlke. The application, pertaining to 954 acres northwest of Indus, originally came before council on Feb. 12, when first and second readings were passed. However, Coun. Kevin Hanson objected to considering the bylaw for third reading due to lingering questions about how the development would be taxed, necessitating the application be considered again at council’s regular meeting Feb. 26. At full operation, according to RVC, it is estimated the proposed farm, comprised of 700,000 solar panels, will generate about 150 megawatts of power – equivalent power for around 24,600 homes. Overall, the project – developed by RealPart Canada – is expected to create about 200 full-time jobs during construction, with between 20 to 30 employees once the site is operational. The installation of a solar farm will not impact the long-term sustainability of the land for future agricultural use, according to RCV, and landscaping around the site’s perimeter will be designed to reduce visibility of the solar panels from adjacent roadways. The next step for this project will be for RealPart Canada to apply for a development permit from the County before construction can begin.

Committee code of conduct

Council unanimously voted to adopt a code of conduct for the County’s boards and committees, which outlines the process by which council may impose sanctions on appointed members-at-large. Prior to the adoption, according to Tyler Andreasen, legislative and bylaw co-ordinator, RVC’s boards and committees were not subject to a standardized code of conduct or policy establishing ethical standards. During a Dec. 18, 2018, meeting of the Policy Review Subcommittee where a series of amendments to RVC’s boards and committees were presented, some councillors on the committee articulated a desire for a code of conduct for board and committee members, Andreasen said. He added the Municipal Government Act (MGA) allows council to establish this type of policy and the substance of the bylaw was taken from council’s code of conduct bylaw. “The proposed bylaw would apply to members of all County boards and committees, including members-at-large appointed by council as well as members appointed by external parties,” Andreasen said, noting the councillors would be exempt as they are already governed by council’s code of conduct. Under the bylaw, according to Andreasen, a person investigating an offence would present their findings to the board or committee in question, which then makes a recommendation to council on whether or not to impose sanctions. Sanctions available to council range from a letter of reprimand to a revocation of the member’s appointment.

Firearms bylaw

Council directed administration to hold a public consultation session on the County’s Firearms Bylaw to inform the public of the contents of the bylaw and seek feedback on potential future changes. Coun. Kim McKylor made a motion to engage in public consultation before amending the bylaw, which was adopted in September 2018, citing struggles with the document in general. "Let's try to get it right, and let's get some public buy-in. In the meantime, we are protected by federal and provincial legislation," she said. Several councillors also found fault with the bylaw, stating it is not easily understood by residents and the federal provincial law already restricts firearm use. Deputy Reeve Al Schule went so far as to suggest the bylaw be "killed," stating it was a "complete waste of time." However, the majority of council was open to McKylor's motion and voted 7-2 to approve public consultation, with Boehlke and Schule in opposition.  

Airdrie City View Staff

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