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Lethbridge County council takes steps to allow for solar farm near Coaldale

Posted on November 6, 2018 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

A solar farm may be operating near Coaldale soon.

During Lethbridge County council’s regular Nov. 1 meeting, two draft bylaws to redesignate the land districts of two quarter-sections owned by Simon Bos Nurseries were presented to council.

The two bylaws — Bylaw 18-023 – Simon Bos Nurseries (Acestes Ventures Ltd.) Land Use Bylaw Amendment Rural Agriculture to Direct Control – NW 7-10-19-W4, and Bylaw 18-024 – Simon Bos Nurseries (Acestes Ventures Ltd.) Land Use Bylaw Amendment From Rural Agriculture to Direct Control – SE 12-10-20-W4 — intend to amend the county’s land use bylaw to change the land designation from Rural Agriculture to Direct Control.

Speaking first on Bylaw 18-023, Hilary Janzen, senior planner for the county, said the change was sought as the land didn’t meet the requirement for a proposed solar farm.

According to accompanying documents, the county’s land use bylaws requires solar farms to be built on parcels of land less then 80 acres that are not irrigated.

“The reason for the amendment, is because the parcel is, that they are requesting, they want to put in a solar collector facility, and it does not meet the requirements of the land use bylaw, in terms of the siting criteria that we have establish and was approved by county council,” said Hilary Janzen.

“It’s south side of the quarter section. With that, the proposal would allow for an about 78-acre solar collector facility on this particular parcel.”

As the bylaw is only up for first reading, Janzen said they haven’t received a lot of feedback on it, and once the public hearing is set, they’ll have a more in-depth report on it and comments from adjacent landowners and external agencies.

In addition to county approval, the applicant would also need approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission before they can proceed with constructing the facility.

Coun. Steve Campbell noted that in the letter attached to the application, it mentioned that the facility needs to be close to a substation, and, although it “may be a tough question for you”, asked how many substations were in the county.

Janzen replied that they had four: one north of Township Road 10-2, one east of the airport, one by Barons and another she believed to be in the north side of the county.

Coun. Tory Campbell asked if it was the “first application of this nature that the county has seen”, to which Janzen replied yes.

“We haven’t had any applications at all in regards to solar collection facilities — they call them farms but I call them facilities,” said Janzen. “This is the first that’s come, and we’ve had a number of inquires since the province has initiated the grant program for alternative energies. This is our first application, but you will be seeing more.”

Coun. Klass Vander Veen said it looked like an “ideal situation” with the power station by the land.

When council turned their attention to Bylaw 18-023, Reeve Lorne Hickey commented that it was “basically the same thing, just a different location”.

Janzen replied it was of similar nature, for the north part of that quarter section. It is located kiddy-corner to the other piece of land in question, and this land also did not meet the requirements in the land use bylaw.

Council unanimously passed motions for first reading of both bylaws.

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