BluEarth seeks noise bylaw exemption to catch up at Loyalist Solar Project panel site
Stone Mills Township has denied a request for Sunday work on a site associated with construction of the Loyalist Solar Project.
Andrea Garcia, a project lead for proponent BluEarth Renewables, appeared before council in Centreville Monday evening to request an noise bylaw exemption to complete work on a panel site off Rattie Road.
Garcia said the site, known as Block A, is the largest of four sites included in the project and is also the most challenging. It was the first area started and construction is most advanced there. Just last week, workers hit a milestone there by raising their first row of solar panels.
Despite that progress, however, she advised rock crushing has been delayed and that has put the project behind its timelines.
Asked what the problem was, Garcia said the rock bed at the site was “slow moving,” making excavation activities more difficult.
“It’s harder rock than we had originally anticipated,” Garcia said. She also noted that parts of the site were heavily forested and when topographical studies were taking place, it was tough to get proper elevations. “In some of those areas, there’s kind of a cliff. We need a minimum of 10-per-cent slope for the panels, so we had to spent quite a bit of time creating that slope.”
According to Garcia, given that Block A was the first site crews worked on, construction started slowly and was ramped up for quality control purposes.
“That slow start, coupled with the rock being more slow moving has caused the delay.” Garcia said she understood the township’s noise bylaw allowed council an opportunity to provide an exemption to the no-Sunday work requirement for up to six months. Although she knew two of five neighbouring residents surveyed were opposed to the exemption, Garcia hoped council would allow trial and error.
“We would require our contractor to stop work as soon as there is a noise complaint,” she said. “We could at least give one or two Sundays a shot to see if it’s something that’s too much of a disturbance or not.”
Councillor Kevin Richmond referred to the audience gathered at council chambers and surmised there was already concern about granting an exemption. He reasoned the bylaw was not unreasonable.
“I can agree with one day off a week to silence your ears,” he said.
Councillor Doug Davison said he understood the exemption to be something that should be for a short-term, a matter of a couple days, rather than six months. He said he’d also heard from his constituents.
“There’s been — to be quite honest with you — a flurry of e-mails from residents who are not in agreement with it. I don’t see how we can do it either, it’s just you’re asking for too long a term.” Davison also suspected there’d likely be a complaint within five minutes that would shut down work and more that could follow, limiting productivity.
Deputy-reeve John Wise asked if in the absence of Sunday work, more crews and equipment could be brought in the other six days of the week. Garcia said that was a possibility if Sunday work was not granted.
“We were hoping, basically, to be done with all the rock drilling by June 25. That would basically be prolonged now, but certainly there are other options,” she said. “This was one and as I always say, you’ve got to ask the question.”
Council unanimously turned down the request.
Garcia also provided council with an update on connection line work. She said underground work from the north end of the line at Sheffield Bridge and Murphy roads was complete and it was hoped the overhead work on Murphy Road would commence this week.
Overhead work at the south end at Centreville Road was completed with the bulk of overhead lines left on County Rd. 27. Additional work on tree removal and underground trenching continues is ongoing on Marlin Road and Edges Road.