/Exploring natural gas options for Minden 

Exploring natural gas options for Minden 

By Chad Ingram

Hills council is writing a letter of support in principle for EPCOR
Utilities Inc. as it applies for grant funding to assist with the
exploration of a natural gas system that could service the village of
Councillors voted that the township would provide the letter
after a lengthy discussion during their July 30 online meeting, and
after establishing that the penning of the letter would not constitute
any kind of commitment on the township’s part.
“We’ve been looking,
throughout Ontario, at areas that currently don’t have gas systems that
could benefit from them,” Thomas Stachowski of EPCOR’s commercial
services branch told councillors in a delegation. Stachowski explained
the company intended to make a grant application to access some of a
$130-million pot the Ontario Energy Board and Ontario Ministry of
Energy, Northern Development and Mines is making available for gas
expansion projects.
“The letter of support would come from the
community,” Stachowski said. “It doesn’t commit the community to moving
forward with the project.”
He said the company had had discussions with representatives of some surrounding municipalities, including Dysart et al.
“Do you have a letter in hand from Dysart?” asked Mayor Brent Devolin.
responded that Dysart was focusing on the district energy system it is
in the preliminary stages of working on, that system being one that
involves the burning of wood chips to provide heat and hot water in the
village of Haliburton.
“And so they’ve chosen not to support natural gas,” Stachowski said.
Pam Sayne said she had a number of concerns with the proposal, among
them that there had been no community consultation.
“So, I can’t support this at this time, we don’t have input from our community,” Sayne said.
Bob Carter also had some questions, wondering if the letter meant the
township was somehow favouring EPCOR over other companies that may wish
to embark on a similar project in the area. “I’m not even willing to say
natural gas would be the best thing for Minden Hills at this time,”
Carter said.
Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell said she was supportive of a
potential plan to allow Mindenites the option of heating their homes
with natural gas, and noted the community had many low-income residents.
“Going to a natural gas option in our community, would save them a lot of money,” Schell said.
said the idea of a local district energy system, perhaps water-based,
operated the municipality, and where residents even potentially received
dividends, would be a much better fit for township.
“It would be much more fruitful in the long run for us,” she said.
really don’t see the harm in the letter of support,” said Councillor
Jean Neville, and ultimately, the majority of council agreed with that,
that the township essentially had nothing to lose.
“As long as we have the option of saying, this isn’t right for our community,” Carter said.
Six of council’s seven members voted in support of the letter, with Sayne opposed.