By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Sturgeon County – A motion that would seek to compensate Sturgeon County landowners affected by the Heartland Transmission Line was tabled by Council during Tuesday’s regular meeting. The motion, co-written by Councillor Don McGeachy and Mayor Don Rigney, was put forth as a notice of motion at the Oct. 25 meeting and raised as the first item of business during the Nov. 8 meeting.
McGeachy’s motion states the “present system of compensating landowners negatively impacted or affected by linear infrastructure is unfair, inequitable and inadequate, resulting in affected landowners bearing a cost far in excess of benefits received.”
To redress what McGeachy feels is an inadequate system, the councillor is suggesting the County’s administration develop a strategy,” including a bylaw to use the revenues received from the Heartland Transmission Line and subsequent project(s) to create the Linear Infrastructure Voluntary Enhancement System to manage the potential inequities of the proposed projects.”
Additionally, the motion calls for the establishment of a criteria framework that would enhance council and the County’s ability to “ensure fair and adequate compensation for all affected residents” identified by that criteria.
“What brought this forward was the imminence of the AUC hearing,” McGeachy said in arguing for his motion. “I just had sensed frustration from a lot of Heartland residents. The councillor went on to say a lot of people are affected by industry and have no out if they want to move or be compensated. “I felt it was incumbent upon us to lead the charge,” he said, adding he hopes the province would follow suit.
But not all councillors were willing to charge ahead with the motion, at least not on Tuesday. Councillor Karen Shaw expressed her concern with rushing forward with the motion without first doing some homework. Shaw said she supported the motion in broad theory but felt the County should sit down with its legal counsel to determine the ramifications of such a motion.
“I’d like to make sure we’ve got all the bases covered and do it properly,” Shaw said, adding she was not comfortable with the motion in the form presented and that she wanted to see council take time and do it right. “I think it’s a little too quick.”
McGeachy’s motion was tabled and will be discussed at a future Committee of the Whole meeting before being brought back to council for debate.
Councillor McGeachy’s motion as presented was as follows:
“Whereas the present system of compensating landowners negatively impacted or affected by linear infrastructure is unfair, inequitable and inadequate, resulting in affected landowners bearing a cost far in excess of benefits received.
“Whereas Sturgeon County and the public derive a significant benefit from linear infrastructure but bears disproportionately much less of the cost than the affected landowners.
“Now therefore be it resolved that in order to redress the inequity and ensure a less confrontational, adversarial but foster a more cooperative approval of needed linear infrastructure for the benefit of all.
“That County Council directs Administration to develop a strategy including a bylaw to use the revenues received from the Heartland Transmission Line and subsequent project(s) to create the Linear Infrastructure Voluntary Enhancement System to manage the potential inequities of the proposed projects. Furthermore to firmly establish a criteria framework that will enhance the County/Council ability to ensure fair and adequate compensation for all affected residents identified by said criteria.”