In the mayor's interview with CBC on expropriation, Devenne said: "No decision has been made, at this point, on actually expropriating."
While it is technically correct that no motion has been passed including the word "expropriate", the Town Council of Mahone Bay knew that private landowners would not sell their land and still approved 1) placing the road on said private land and 2) approved the construction plan for the road on said private land. These Town Council decisions cannot result in anything but the expropriation of private land. Suggesting Councilors have not made a decision on expropriation is dishonest.
During the CBC interview, in regard to DNR turning down an easement for the old train tracks, Devenne said "the next best thing we could do was pull back from that which would put it right across private property"
The town pulled back 300 meters from the tracks to where landowners do not want to sell. Landowners have asked them to only pull back 10 meters, to where they would happily sell.
- Why pull back 300 meters when 10 meters would would make landowners happy?
In regard to expropriating land to encourage future development as a factor in choosing the placement of the power corridor, Devenne said "no discussion, per say, on future uses of land - no plan, no intention"
This is entirely false, future development of private land was expressly discussed at Council's Jan 27th meeting prior to going in camera (excluding press and public) for the vote, and future development was discussed again at Council's May 31st meeting prior to the vote. [See transcripts below]
In regard to choosing not to expropriate RPS's land for the project, Devenne said "Expropriation for the municipalities is limited to things like electrical wiring corridors, that type of thing"
Where is this codified? If it is at the discretion of the expropriating body, as mentioned previously, neighbouring municipal and green power organizations, with the power to expropriate, have always found another way, even if it means reduced profitability. Why is that not possible for the Mahone Bay Town Council?
Transcripts of CBC Interview with Mahone Bay Mayor, David Devenne
CBC Interviewer, Tom Murphy: “Let’s then talk about the land expropriation, then, to make this happen, to build the transmission lines from the solar farm to the generating station. Rather than expropriate the land, why not use the existing transmission lines that run from the sewage treatment plant to main street? That’s what the landowners would like to see you rather do?”
Mayor Devenne: “We have investigated that and the cost and the impact on the solar garden of running the cabling down the hill to main street, up main street and back up the other streets to the switching station, the distribution station, would be a very expensive project, it would cause much more environmental damage, uhh, it would interrupt traffic in the town, and we would have less electrical product to market because of losses in the lines for the additional distance.”
“much more environmental damage”
More environmental damage than clearcutting >2.75 acres of substantial trees?
More environmental damage than splitting and industrializing the centre of 75 acres of tranquil habitat?
“disrupt traffic in town”
A major concern…
“less electrical product to market because of losses in the lines for the additional distance”
If and additional ~500 meters of wire is a deal breaker, save 1,500 meters of wire losses, >$1million of cost, and collocate with the substation on town-owned land – no expropriation required, more power to market, lots of cost savings
CBC interviewer, Tom Murphy: “Earlier this year, Councilors apparently held a special meeting and discussed the corridor through this expropriated land and the possibility of future development in the area. How much is this vision to develop this area part of the reason that councilors want to put in this road, this access?”
Devenne: “The meetings that were conducted to discuss the road were for the actual location of the road and how the road was to be constructed, there was no discussion, per say, on future uses of land and at this point there is no plan, no intention to develop any other properties."
Did Devenne forget the two Council meetings where they specifically discussed development of the Ridgeway (the remaining, desirable private land)?:
Jan 27, 2022, Meeting to decide where the service corridor and road is placed
Councilor Kelly Wilson: "Would it be smart of us to consider when we put the access road in, on Track A, to consider making that a full service road so that it would make it more possible for the landowners, with the land that they have remaining, to develop it, when and if they wanted to?"
CAO Dylan Hyde: "Certainly, that is part of the consideration in terms of acquiring an easement or in terms of actually acquiring title to the land, uhm, so depending on how we proceed with the property owners, uhh, it may be something council wishes to raise as an option, it certainly is an option. It will remain an option for council until we decide how to move forward with the land acquisition."
Discussion goes in camera (excluding press and public). Council votes to place service corridor on private land - requiring expropriation.
May 31, 2022, Special Council Meeting to approve the road construction plan over Expropriation Land
Councilor Kelly Wilson: “My philosophy would be that that road should be a full blown street in town that allows the property owners to develop the properties on either side.”
Councilor Joe Feeney: “It’s been a long standing dream to provide access to the ridgeway in pursuit of ongoing development down the road, but, uh, [chuckles with air quotes “down the road”] small “r” road but um you know in this case you know I think this is phase one of a, of a, um , decade long journey to see.. it um, strikes me as reasonable, to expect that down the road, the, the economic incentives to take that road and inevitably turn it into a road that meets those standards.. so, I’m out of my depth here, but 65 feet wide, you know
Mayor Devenne: “Mmmhmm”
Councilor Joe Feeney: “and “X” inches thick and so on and so forth, which is far beyond the economic budget of this project, so I do think that if there is a road.. I.. I think that as we’ve looked at this site, it’s become clear to us that access to the ridgeway will never occur through the track, through the uhm Rails to Trails track, I mean the old, the old rail track. I mean that’s, that’s economically, that will never happen for all the obvious reasons, we evaluated it, just to go that extra route was $400k. Uhm, and to turn that into a commercial road, where you could drive trucks down and cars down it’s just an unfathomable amount of money, but I do think to the Deputy Mayor’s point, aspirationally, if the owners of the property, in, in consultation with the town, down the road want to convert that “laneway” into a road to provide long term access, that’s something that I think, that I think, the town would be amenable to.“
Council votes to approve the road building plan on private land – requiring expropriation.