LETTER: Information on solar project should be public

The decision on which publicly owned property to use, was made at a closed meeting

Dear Editor:

Bit by bit we are getting access to the info provided to council four months ago at an in camera meeting when they made their decision to locate the solar project on the south toe of Cartwright Mountain.

Some councillors now want to augment that decision by also investigating a second site.

Other councillors say they made the decision based on expert opinion and they will stand by it.

The first study, the May 31, 2017 Pre Feasibility Study, was given two potential sites to use by staff, before the study began — the current site and one further out past the landfill in the 300 acres owned by the town.

This study was kept secret until recently.

READ ALSO: Summerland solar power project will provide electricity

READ ALSO: Summerland council considers land use at proposed solar site

If we are councillors, entrusted with decision making for our community, we will always bring our personal opinion to the decision making process.

But we also have to depend on the opinions that we receive from experts.

This means people who are qualified by a certifying professional body to express opinion in specific areas where they have advanced education and knowledge.

They sign their names to their reports and include the alphabet soup of letters that express their qualifications.

This information must be provided to the public as well, to help individuals understand the broader issues and move past their personal opinions.

It reduces the arguments if there is good expert opinion to refer to.

The second study, Summerland Integrated Solar Project System Impact and Interconnection Study, actually does an assessment of all the municipally-owned lands and comes up with other better sites.

A couple of them are not in wildfire hazard areas or environmentally sensitive areas.

We should take another look at them.

The decision on which publicly owned property to use, was made at a closed meeting at the end of February 2019.

At the end of May information was finally released on the reports used by council to support their decision making.

This information is difficult to qualify as expert opinion as it is not signed off on by a qualified individual.

The second study identifies a number of other properties as equally useful and two as evaluated highest.

The south toe of Cartwright Mountain is in the Urban Growth Boundary for good reason. It is a key property infilling residential between the Deer Ridge subdivision and the town core.

It provides the opportunity to help finance services like sewer so that it can be developed efficiently at densities well beyond single family residential.

It is in a wildfire hazard area that needs to be addressed for the sake of the existing residential properties in the area.

The expert opinion in the second study recommends we look at the property on Fyfe Road under the cell towers. Its 51.84 acres and is surrounded by the KVR track and roads.

The report states that it shows particular promise due to its potential to support improvements to municipality’s system.

Some of the councillors have asked to review the potential for the site near the landfill that is one of the two ranking the highest in the report.

The other highest ranking site is adjacent to the golf course.

Lots of options. Let’s look at them. And this time let’s do it in public with all the information on the table for all to see.

Lorraine Bennest

Summerland

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