alternative energy

Transit and Windmills and NIMBY’s (oh my!)

It’s been awhile since I weighed in on Cochrane’s controversial topics (currently transit and windmills). Let’s start with windmills.

Recently, there’s been a lot of chatter in the local papers about plans for a 5kW wind turbine that’s proposed for the Cochrane High School. For those that aren’t familiar with this school, they’ve been on the leading edge of sustainable development since 2000. A group of their students beat me out of an Alberta Emerald Award a few years ago (much deserved!). I’m not going to dive into the details of this ongoing drama, preferring instead to comment on a couple of things that come to mind.

First, there was a recent motion (by the mayor) at Town Council to develop an alternative energy framework for projects such as this. I think this is a splendid idea…so long as it’s sole focus isn’t on some minority groups definition of “unsightly”. There’s also talk of asking the high school to put their windmill project on hold until this framework is completed. I think that’s a terrible idea….unless we’re halting all development projects until the appropriate “framework” is in place. Trying to establish this framework at this time is going to encourage the NIMBY’s No Turbine’s in Town Coalition (NTTC) to direct their pent-up rage towards a document that is going to be around for a long time. The project should go in front of the Alberta Utilities Board for consideration, as the next step in due process for these students.

Diversifying our aging electricity grid with sustainable local energy production is critical.

Next up: Transit. Oh god. The issue that seemingly won’t go away, prompted in large part by one of the local papers. On page 2 of the Cochrane Eagle this week was a column with no fewer than 17 questions, disguised loosely as an editorial.

Is it a convenience for the few paid for by the many? Does it make sense for taxpayers to subsidize a bus service taking shoppers to another city?

I have a feeling those questions aren’t being asked out of curiosity.

Having followed the transit discussion for some time, it’s intriguing to me that the town is catching such flack over the issue (then again, I’m regularly intrigued by what get’s published sometimes…). Sure, they jumped out of the gate pretty hard off the bat, but since then they’ve taken feedback, slowed down the process, listened to people’s concerns and come back to the table with 3 very reasonable and affordable approaches to phasing in transit (an identified community need). What seems to be the issue at hand comes back to some very vocal people who disagree with the finding’s of a variety of robust Ipsos Reid polls and surveys, which concluded that there is general support of transit in the community.

Disagreeing with something doesn’t make it any less true….whether it’s a windmill or a bus.