| Apr 29, 2010

Frontenac County sees energy production as economic driver 

Frontenac County Council is looking to the wind farm on Wolfe Island as the catalyst for the county to establish itself as “the alternative energy capital of Ontario”, according to Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek.

“This can be the equivalent in energy production to what the Waterloo region is in terms of technology,” he added.

These comments were delivered in response to a report to a meeting of county council on April 21 by consultant Kathryn Wood about a project that has been dubbed the “New Energy Project – Life as we'll know it”, which has been ongoing for the past six months.

A steering committee that includes representatives from Frontenac County, Queen's University, St. Lawrence College, Lennox and Addington County, the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC) has been meeting on an informal basis to consider developing the KFL&A region as an alternative energy hub.

The Wolfe Island wind project, a solar farm in Lennox and Addington, and the Kingston-based activist group SWITCH are all considered major assets to the project.

The next step for the group involves formalizing its structure, identifying medium and long-term goals, and a branding initiative for the region.

Kathryn Wood broke down the multi-year strategies for the group under five themes: green leadership, green power, living the green life, green works and green infrastructure.

Another initiative, this one with a more local flavour, was brought to county council at the same meeting. Councilors from three Frontenac townships – Fred Perry of North Frontenac, David Hahn of South Frontenac, and Matt Fines of Frontenac Islands made a presentation.

The three had attended a Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Ottawa in February, and during that conference, along with Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski, and Elizabeth Savill and Anne Marie Young from Frontenac County, they struck up conversations between themselves and some of the senior bureaucrats responsible for municipal lending programs and green initiatives.

“Out of this meeting we came to the conclusion that a green energy task force or committee would be a good idea. It could include one or two members from county council and one or two county staff, a representative from each township, and one or two citizen appointees with specific expertise,” said David Hahn.

The proposed committee would have the initial goal of bringing at least one target project forward in the near term.

“An example would be the installation of solar panels on municipal buildings in Frontenac County,” Hahn said.

Other objectives include developing “mid-term targets for green energy project investments”, and identifying financial resources and partnerships that may be available in order to bring about larger projects.

Joe Gallivan, who is the sustainability planner for Frontenac County, is currently working on an assessment of renewable energy potential in Frontenac County for which the engineering firm Genivar has been hired.

Among other things, the project is looking at small-scale energy projects that are already “on the ground” such as the solar projects on the Leonard farm in Hartington and the Daski property in Mountain Grove. It will also focus on providing information and a list of funding programs for other potential investors in the county.

“The renewable energy assessment project, as well as the regional initiative that Kathy Wood was talking about, and what we are talking about here, should all help us move forward on this together,” said David Hahn.

“I think this is a very exciting initiative for the County,” said Warden Gary Davison.

“In terms of the townships and the county working together I see great value and I will offer my participation as a committee member,” said Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski.

“The grassroots is certainly looking for action. Let's get this thing going. I'm excited about this,” said Matt Fines from Frontenac Islands.

“Our municipality has some municipal buildings that could be used,” said Fred Perry from North Frontenac.

County Council approved the establishment of the local committee in principle, with details to be sorted out for the May county council meeting. 


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