Richmond backs plan for offshore wind farm

Photo by Jake Boudrot -- Once again this year, the Duck Pond was a popular stop for the younger crowd on Canada Day at LeNoir Landing in Arichat in 2019.

ARICHAT: Richmond Municipal Council agreed to send a letter of support and sign-on to a regional letter to the provincial government backing a proposal by Brezo Energy Inc. to erect wind turbines off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Warden Amanda Mombourquette said council held a special meeting early last month with Brezo Energy president Iván Barroeta, and discussed the project again during the regular monthly meeting late last month.

One question which arose was about possible environmental and economic impacts of the project, specifically the effect on the local fishery, the warden said.

“They are presenting, basically, a proposal for a new generation of offshore wind floaters, and it’s a demonstration project,” she said. “It would be, basically, offshore in the Strait of Canso to the east.”

District 3 Councillor Melanie Sampson spoke with Barroeta, who told her the company is planning to meet with the Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association. Based on the data she’s seen, her concerns have been addressed.

“(Department of Fisheries and Oceans) fishing statistics showed very little activity in the suggested site,” she noted. “In fact, he said it showed nothing but they wanted to talk to the fishermen to ensure that that was accurate information.”

Mombourquette said Nova Scotia Business Inc. provided feedback to council that Brezo is planning on going through the assessment process, as well as a local engagement plan that supports local suppliers, consultations with First Nations, a draft environmental monitoring plan, and a risk management plan.

“I would suggest that any letter of support that we think we should provide for this project, or any project for that matter, should likely include some language that our support would be conditional upon the provincial and federal environmental requirements,” she noted.

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Council has agreed on funding for Canada Day activities.

Chief Financial Officer Jason Martell said a call for funding applications was sent out in early May, and was advertised in The Reporter.

The municipality received three applications, two groups which applied previously, and one new applicant, Martell noted.

The River Bourgeois Community Services Society did not apply last year but did this year, Martell said, noting that Development Isle Madame applied for $5,000 and the St. Peter’s and Area Lions Club applied for $5,000.

“It says on the application that the funding is $3,000 per district, so $3,000 per district at five districts would be $15,000,” he said. “From a staff perspective, we just budget the $15,000. It doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the $3,000 per district. Really, it’s up to council to give whatever you want, as long as it’s within the budget.”

Martell said council has the option to give the groups what they applied for, or approve smaller allotments.

“In the past, I believe, councillors have shared where some districts had under-applied. It’s not the $15,000 that’s budgeted, what is budgeted is the $10,450,” he explained.

Since no groups from his district applied for funding, District 5 Councillor Brent Sampson said he has no problem with his funding share going to district 4.

District 1 Councillor Shawn Samson said he supports DIMA receiving $6,000, which comes to $3,000 per Isle Madame district.

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Public Works Director Chris Boudreau had council agree to apply for $40,000 in funding under the Provincial Capital Assistance Program (PCAP) for an inflow infiltration study for the Petit de Grat sewer system.

“That project, we are required to do by the province, we’ve been directed to do so by Nova Scotia Environment,” he told council. “The monies have been budgeted in our operating budget under the sewer budget, an amount estimated at $40,000 but that’s untendered pricing. Reasonably sure $40,000 would cover it. If we’re able to apply and be successful for PCAP funding, it would reduce that cost.

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Deputy Warden Michael Diggdon suggested the municipality waive tipping fees at the landfill during the month of May, while heavy garbage collection is taking place.

Diggdon said this would make it easier for people to transfer their heavy garbage.

“Is there a way that we can have staff – during the month of May, for the people that want to pick up their own garbage, instead of leaving it on the side of the road blowing everywhere – is there a way that we can pass something?”

Chief Administrative Officer Don Marchand said heavy garbage collectors are hired to do this.

“I just see it causing a lot of confusion at the scale, and causing more disturbance than anything,” he said. “It would be just as easy for them to make two trips to the landfill to avoid the fees.”

Boudreau responded that residents would have to take 400 kilograms of material to the landfill to be billed a tipping fee, but in the case of heavy waste pick-up, only loads up to 150 kg are permitted.

“If they’re coming in and they’re getting billed, they’re coming in with almost three times what would be allowed for heavy pick-up anyway,” he told council. “Generally, we’d like to discourage extra traffic at the site. So where possible, we would rather residents put it at the curb for heavy collection rather than bring it in.”

Sampson said those looking to bend the rules might take advantage of this offer.

Mombourquette said this could be discussed at the next meeting of the municipality’s bylaw and policy committee.

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Council decided they will not hold regular monthly meetings and committee of the whole sessions during the months of July and August, but left themselves open for special meetings.

Diggdon said being off for two months is a “big step,” and because of Zoom, there is no need to meet in-person. He suggested holding committee of the whole one month, then a regular session the next month.

“I personally it would be great to have one meeting to keep everyone in the loop,” he stated.

Sampson said because staff are taking vacations, it has been common practice in the past to hold meetings during the summer only when matter arise that require an immediate decision.

The district 3 councillor agreed that it makes sense to give staff a break after asking them to work long hours for 10 months of the year, and she doesn’t think it makes sense to hold scheduled meetings.

“I certainly don’t, and I don’t suspect any of the other councillors do either, consider ourselves off for the summer,” Sampson noted. “I think we are still on for our residents. And there are still staff available to us in the office, if we have questions, or we need help, we need assistance with any of that. As always, they’re helpful to us, and so I don’t know that having a meeting is a necessity for us to continue the work that we do for our residents on a regular basis.”

Marchand said July and August are the only times for staff to take vacation, and he said some former  councillors also took time off during the summer months.

The warden suggested that she can check-in every couple of weeks with councillors over the summer to verify if there are pressing matters that require action.