The Mitchell Advocate
By Andy Bader, Mitchell Advocate
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger made a brief visit to West Perth municipal council last Tuesday, Nov. 13, and a wide-ranging discussion touched on wind turbines, grant news and the country’s Sesquicentennial in 2017.
West Perth Mayor Walter McKenzie asked if Schellenberger, a municipal politician for 12 years before venturing into federal politics, brought with him a “big cheque” or news on the municipality’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund grant application from earlier this year. West Perth applied for two-thirds federal grant assistance with two projects, accessibility renovations to the Mitchell & District Arena and Community Centre ($960,000, or a grant request of $480,000), and the reconstruction of Line 36, for just over $1 million (or a grant request of $513,400). Unfortunately, Schellenberger said he had no news on the requests, only that they made the first cut.
“We do expect the notices to go out before the end of the year,” he said, and suggested that the municipality “do as much preliminary work as you can” so if/when the grant is approved they can proceed immediately.
Council is hoping to at least improve the washrooms at the Mitchell & District Community Centre, and doesn’t want to do what amounts to a band aid solution before they get confirmation of the grant. Timing is key for the work at the community centre, facility manager Rick Vivian noted, especially with the International Plowing Match (IPM) approaching next September. He also doesn’t have a huge window to perform any work based on the current bookings for 2013.
Speaking of grants, Mayor McKenzie also asked Schellenberger if the federal government had Sesquicentennial plans for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017. He recalled the federal government offering grant money for centennial projects in 1967, and most municipalities took advantage of this opportunity.
“Yes, I think there will probably be something there,” Schellenberger said. “I suggest you get all your ducks in a row, and be ready.”
Mayor McKenzie noted the municipality’s Streetscape improvements, which are planned for 2013 and being spread out over the next few years, would tie in perfectly with any Sesquicentennial fund. He hinted that the post office clock tower might be something the municipality would encourage to fit and be completed under this program.
The omnipresent wind turbine transmission line in the area is also something of a concern for Schellenberger and members of council.
Schellenberger admitted he has a personal interest in any transmission line since one proposed would go right past his Grand Bend area cottage.
“I’ve been as vocal as I could be with the Minister of Health,” he said, adding that a federal health study on the matter could “slow some of this down.”
The federal government has been in favour of spending money on alternative power, and wind is one of those alternatives, but that only concerns projects previously approved.
“It’s a real problem for us in rural Ontario,” he said. “If there ends up being no health problems, every part of every city should have one.”
Mayor McKenzie then asked Schellenberger if there is any wind turbines in Ottawa, jokingly adding “you [politicians] all have a lot of hot air.”
“Yes, but hot air melts those things,” Schellenberger responded in jest.