By Justin Seward
Cypress County council approved the first reading of the Master Rates Bylaw on Jan. 18, but not without fee changes.
Council began by discussing the fee structure for the commercial wind farm and solar development fee—which currently sits at a proposed $1,000 per quarter section and administration discussed about adding an additional $500 fee to recoup costs for staff time to review applications before it’s presented to the Municipal Planning Commission.
“I think what I’m getting at here is where I look (at the) example at this (Winnifred Wind Project) project that’s out my way,” said Coun. Dustin Vossler.
“… I’m saying I look at the amount of time and effort that is put into that on county staff’s behalf and we’re not remotely close to covering that. And even the same thing with the other one that we’ve been dealing with (Highway No. 41 Cypress Wind) the roads and how many times it’s come back and how much time and effort staff has put into it. You know, it’s advantageous to us to have these towers here for a tax rate, but there’s a line in the sand where how much time can you eat up for $1,000? Not very much. So, if we continue to see this happen—which it’s seems to be fairly frequently— and there’s always going to be logistical issues with them because they’re big projects.”
Vossler continued by saying the county will have roads being built and they’re always going to try and follow the existing road networks.
“It causes time for our staff, it costs the municipality money for it to happen and we don’t get compensated for that,” said Vossler.
CAO Tarolyn Aaserud said when the bylaws are not followed, that’s when it starts to cost money.
“In my experience, I’ve done a couple in other municipalities, wind energy conversion systems and every company is different,” she said.
“And every project brings its challenges and benefits of course. After these projects are done, we’ll bring back how much it costs for us.”
Council agreed on to increase the development fee for commercial wind projects to $2,500 per wind turbine/structure and solar based on the same amount per land title.
Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) appeal fee will be at $300.
Kaylene Simpson, the county’s planning supervisor, said the county was proposing to keep the fee at $300 because they didn’t want it to be difficult for adjacent land owner that are perhaps affected by a decision with the MPC.
Those changes will not be finalized unless second and third reading of the bylaw are passed at the Feb. 15 council meeting.