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Lethbridge County receives update on Stirling Wind Project

Posted on February 1, 2024 by admin
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By Heather Cameron
Westwind Weekly News

During the County of Lethbridge Council meeting that took place on January 18, Jennifer Place from Corporate Services came forward to Council stating Administration brought forward a report with regards to the Stirling Wind Project Community Benefit Fund program. 

The program, Place said, came to pass when Potentia Renewables approached Lethbridge County to discuss community funding through the Stirling Wind Project. Place reiterated that with their wind turbines that are within Lethbridge County and in combination with the County of Warner, they were willing to offer funds just shy of $10,000 annually to the County to put back into the community as part of their renewable program. As a result of that, Place said, Council passed a resolution at that time to direct Administration to sign the agreement with Stirling Renewable Energy, and then bring back a plan for how the County would initiate the program.  

Place said she then spoke with the representative from Potentia Renewables and discussed some options, and he redirected her to Wheatland County, which was already doing something very similar, and they had a clear application process already designed, so the County Administration piggybacked on that. Place said she was fortunate enough to have Administration put those applications together for Council.

The County of Warner portion, Place said, is over $10,000 and the County of Lethbridge’s portion is over $15,000. Place said that within the report, there are some stipulations within the agreement how the funds can be allocated, including an open allocation amount to a maximum of $10,000 annually, which would be funding for things including environmental enhancement, social welfare, arts and culture, health and wellness, education and science and emergency relief. 

Place said that through the program, the County, based on groups and organizations that apply, would fit under those eligibilities. Eligibility, Place said, would be for a local registered charity, a nonprofit organization or society organization or association schools and other groups. Place emphasized that this might provide opportunities for schools outside of the County’s current donation policy to apply for funding on an annual basis and they could include capital projects or equipment for enhancement of facilities, or emergency relief should they need some.

Place also mentioned a Community Benefit Scholarship Program, saying that they looked at Wheatland County’s program as a guideline as to how to put one together. Wheatland County, Place said, has a scholarship program with scholarships offered to recipients who are furthering their studies in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics specifically. Place said that under the County bursary, they don’t stipulate necessarily what type of studies students are going into and it’s a good opportunity to expand the existing bursary program that the County has. Place said that there will be administrative and advertising costs with the management program, but they will be fairly minimal and close to what the County is currently doing with the Bursary Program.

Place said that per the agreement, Potentia would also be involved in reviewing the applications, and that once all the applications have been received, either an administrative committee or Council committee or a combination of both would meet with them to review the applications and then send them out. 

Councillor Hickey asked if the not-for-profit or community associations that are currently getting a grant from the County of $10,000 each would still be eligible to apply for help from this new program, as he believes that some would be interested in applying. Place stated that she believes they would still be eligible to apply, but it would be at the discretion of the committee to determine whether or not they were. Place offered to check with the representative at Potentia Renewables and see if that’s something the County can include in the application or if the County wants to put stipulations around that.

CAO Beck said that there are specific factors around community enhancement and enrichment. That considered, Beck said, there would be an evaluation process to preclude them if it was a replication of that and it didn’t further enhance, enrich or drive a community impact in a meaningful way.

Ultimately, Councillor Kuerbis made a motion that Council approve the Stirling Wind Project Community Benefit Fund application and Community Benefit Scholarship program application as presented. The motion was carried.

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