Currie declares conflict on turbine zoning
Against an accusation of an appearance of conflict of interest, Amaranth Township records indicate that Mayor Bob Currie declared his interest in the rezoning of his own and his son's properties for the planned installation of wind turbines.
The Amaranth zoning for the wind generators is complex. Initially, in accordance with a provincial policy statement on renewable energy, township council proposed an Official Plan that would, in general, allow site-specific zoning for the installations on agricultural and rural properties, such as to be removed a distance from urbanized areas.
The section of the Official Plan dealing with wind generation is under appeal by a property owner who wants it extended to include other than agricultural and rural properties.
According to the township clerk, Mayor Currie did participate in the Official Plan deliberations, advising fellow councillors that he had obtained a legal opinion prior to doing so.
The allegation of an appearance of conflict is contained in a proposed letter to the editor, whose author claims the mayor received money from Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD) prior to the Official Plan and rezoning meetings of March 3 and 4.
In fact, project manager Geoff Carnegie of CHD said Tuesday that all subject property owners in Amaranth have been paid an unspecified amount for an option to lease land required for installation of a turbine. "This in no way guarantees that a turbine would ever be installed." He would not say how much CHD pays for the option, describing it as "a private matter between the company and the landowner."
In a telephone interview, Mayor Currie said he
wasn't in the mix," and hadn't been approached by CHD at any time prior to the Official Plan deliberations. CHD's option, with no guarantee of an installation, came after the province and township had adopted the Official Plan.
With respect to the meetings of March 3 and 4, the mayor said he was acting only as chairman of a public meeting at which no vote was to be taken.
Mayor Currie was not critical of anyone for having publicly voiced or written criticism of him. "If people want to take a shot at me, that's public life," he said.
However, he said he couldn't understand people's opposition to tapping wind energy. "People have completely missed the point. It's clean energy. Everyone wants no pollution."
Speaking to conflicts, he said, "everyone in the township has a pecuniary interest, as we'll all benefit" from the wind farms through new tax revenue.