Newspapers don’t often do advance stories for local council meetings but in this case, North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins is scheduled to present his vision for a self-sustaining community at a special Council meeting following North Frontenac’s regular meeting at the Ompah Community Hall this Friday at 1 p.m.
The agendas for both meetings are on the Township’s website.
Higgins has been working on his presentation for months now.
“The special meeting is to introduce North Frontenac’s One Small Town project to move North Frontenac into becoming a self-sustainable municipality at some point in the future,” Higgins said. “This project is literally a world first.”
And indeed it is.
Without getting into too many spoilers, here are a few things you might want to know about the concept.
A big part of it is based on ‘contribution’ from its residents whereby community members provide three hours a week (strictly voluntary) in return for benefits like free electricity.
Some of the contributions could be:
• Apiary (bee keeping): This could include the obvious honey production as well as wax for candle making, queen husbandry and starter hives.
“We would identify how much honey our community needs for those who contribute their three hours a week,” the implementation plan says. “Once we know how much honey our community needs for those who contribute their three hours a week, we triple that amount.
“The other two-thirds would be sold within and outside the community at a slightly higher price than it cost to produce but substantially lower than market prices due to a lack of significant labour related costs.
“Once the initial investment is paid off, the full two-thirds will go into the sustainability fund, which will be used to fund new projects.”
• Forest products manufacturing: Three areas have been identified in the plan — canoe making, furniture and wood pellet manufacturing.
“Over the winter of 2018 a canoe will be built in the recently acquired Plevna facility,” the plan said. “This canoe will be made to show the community the quality of canoes that can be made (and) publicity would be enhanced by raffling off the canoe.
“Once an adequate facility is in place, canoe making will become a new project and applying the contributionism model will allow free canoes for those who contribute.”
Two other proposals include furniture making once a facility has been established and pellets for pellet stoves manufacturing.
“This item (pellet manufacturing) has been talked about before and one of the restrictions to starting up was the upfront costs,” the plan said. “By building our sustainability fund, we will eventually be in a position to establish a facility within North Frontenac.”
• Aquatic and agricultural food production: The production will be based on a food requirement assessment to be conducted in early 2018.
Other areas in the planning stages include a health and wellness centre, a First Nations centre (tanning, crafts, education) and eco-tourism.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the proposal is a partnership of sorts with Langenburg Technologies from Eugene, Oregon, who use water systems to generate electricity. Under the proposal, Langenburg would install approximately $20 million worth of equipment and recover their investment by selling power into the grid. To do this, they would require an electrical infrastructure assessment that would cost $280,000 but Higgins has said he’s had discussions with an Ontario Electricity Distributors representative who suggested this project could “probably get full funding.”
If the electrical generation aspect works, then providing free electricity to the various contribution activities should provide an aspect that has been an impediment for many would-be startups in the past.
“As an example if we were to mass produce tilapia (the common name for almost a hundred species of cichlid fish that are increasing in importance in aquaculture and aquaponics) there would be about four harvests per year with a capacity to produce about 240 tons per year with a yield of 35 per cent to produce fillets,” the plan said. “the required total installed electrical effect is about 200kW for the fish farming equipment and the average effect during normal operation will be 100-120kW.”
If Council approves the plan, the first step would be to get funding in place for the electricity infrastructure assessment, Higgins’ presentation concludes.
Council will be presented with three options ranging from accepting the report for information purposes only to authorizing the Mayor to supporting implementation of the plan.