Kelly: ARAc final 2023 meeting focuses on BESS

The Councillor's Column

The year’s final meeting of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee (ARAc) was held on Nov. 30 and included discussion about four Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) proposals in Ottawa’s rural wards, including three in Ward 5.

A column header for the councillor's column.

The proposed West Carleton-March locations were Galetta Side Road/Homesteaders Road; Machardy Road and Old Highway 17; and 650 Upper Dwyer Hill Rd.

ARAC looked at all four proposals and rejected the three in West Carleton, accepting only the one in Ward 21, at 4186 William McEwen Rd., not far from the Trail Road Waste Facility.

Coun. Kelly’s Statement on BESS Proposals after today’s ARAc meeting:

“Today we discussed several important files at ARAC including the three BESS proposals in Ward 5,” Kelly said. “City staff, without speaking to the councillors in any of the wards where they were proposed, were recommending a municipal support resolution for all of the current BESS proposals in Ottawa’s rural wards.

“As I have mentioned, these systems are going to be needed in the future and the concept makes a lot of sense. But any company wishing to put one of these in Ward 5 or other rural communities needs to come to the table much earlier and in a much more meaningful way. This was reflected in my questions and interventions at committee today, as well as ARAC’s decision not to support any of the proposals in West Carleton-March. Thank you to all the residents on both sides of this debate who took the time to participate today. I look forward to continuing this conversation.”

You can watch video of today’s ARAC meeting here.

ARAC also approved its portion of Draft Budget 2024, which includes $3.47 million in net operating funding and $7.1 million in capital funding. That funding includes $6 million to renew rural infrastructure, such as roads and guiderails, and more than $1.1 million toward construction of a planned new community building in the Rural East community.

When added to funding approved through other committees, the city’s draft budget invests about $64.5 million in rural infrastructure including more than $35.1 million in roadwork rehabilitation and resurfacing, pathways and sidewalks, $18.3 million for bridge and culvert rehabilitation work and $5.1 million for buildings and parks, including accessibility improvements.

The committee considered amendments to the city’s Site Alteration Bylaw, which sets out the rules and practices to regulate site alteration activities, such as removing topsoil from land, excavating, altering a property’s grade and clearing vegetation. The Committee directed staff to revise some of the changes being proposed to the natural environment protections and notification provisions of the bylaw. Staff will bring a revised report to a future meeting of the Committee for further consideration.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to council on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

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