The Buzz from Grand Manan, with Wayne Sturgeon

courier-columns

Grand Manan –  Due to unexpected personal circumstances, I was called to my homeland of the Miramichi and was unable to attend the regular scheduled meeting of Council on April 3rd. So I thought, no problem, I’ll be able to write this month’s Buzz by watching the meeting on the internet. But unfortunately, a lot of the meeting was shown in complete blackness for some unknown technical reason. No one’s fault, it’s just life, things are going to go wrong every now and then.

So this month, we’re going to touch on a few things that you have been asking about and obviously I have space to address them. So let’s get started.
First, unless you have been living on another planet, you have been hearing lots on the subject of property tax assessments, and how many of us may have been incorrectly assessed. Now, I’m not going to get into the act of pointing fingers, and laying blame on how this all happened, in this article.

But I am going to tell you how you can appeal, if you feel you are one of those whose property has been overly assessed for its value. Normally, you have until the end of March to appeal. Normally it has an 85 per cent chance of getting you a reduction in assessment, and, normally, your appeal gets addressed by early fall. But these are not normal times.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances, and volumes of these appeals, you have until August 1st to appeal your property assessment value. Due to the extreme numbers of appeals, no doubt it will take longer than usual to have it addressed, but addressed it shall be.

The yellow form included in this year’s property tax assessment documentation is not an appeal form. The appeal request is on the white assessment page. There has been some confusion, with some sending in the wrong form.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, our island has been approached, more than a few times, about the idea of allowing wind energy to be generated, and distributed, from our fair isle. Time and again we were told it was going to be a happening thing, only to fizzle out in the end.

However, the right company, and circumstances, have come along, with the right offer to benefit us all. We, as your representatives, have been meeting, and negotiating, with the company, Innergex.

Innergex has renewable energy projects established throughout North America, and many of these are as community involved, and beneficial, as this one. In the proposal, The Village of Grand Manan will be the majority stake holder, but without a penny of investment from the tax payers.

With that said, the village has been very firm on two subjects in particular. First, we will not do anything that will endanger the operation of our airport. Second, we had to have a public meeting, to consult with Grand Manan residents, to find out their concerns, and gage opinion.

On the evening of April 5th, that (widely advertised) public meeting was held at the community school. Representatives of the company, and members of council were there to listen to any questions, and concerns, residents may have. Among the questions asked were solar options, bird mortality, the condition of our current power cable, and its upgrading next year, and the benefits it may provide to our island.

The meeting was relatively well attended, and at the end of the meeting, everyone was asked to turn in a ballot they were given to gage the support of such a project.
On April 11th, council held a special meeting, to decide on the fate of this energy project with Innergex. We found that of the 51 ballots submitted at the end of the April 5th meeting, 43 were in support, seven were neutral, and only one against.

It was moved by deputy mayor, Robert Moses, and seconded by councillor Roger Fitzsimmons, providing Nav Canada gives the all clear for airport concerns, the village of Grand Manan will enter into the energy project agreement with Innergex. The motion was passed with unanimous support.

You may have noticed I haven’t given out any money figures concerning this agreement. The reason is that Innergex is undergoing a competitive bidding process. If they don’t succeed in the bid, then this is all moot.

However, if they are successful, the project will provide several temporary construction jobs in preparation of coming online by April 2020, and 4 permanent jobs, as well as the continuing funds we’ll receive in the future. We’ll continue to be the majority stakeholder, so we’ll continue to have the final say.