Policing the windmills on Wolfe Island is to cost Frontenac Islands Township more than $25,000 more this year. (Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard)
The Whig-Standard, January 20, 2016
By Elliot Ferguson
MARYSVILLE — Recent changes to how the Ontario Provincial Police bill municipalities for service could have a major impact on rural townships that are home to wind turbines. More than six years after the turbines on Wolfe Island became operational, Frontenac Islands Township council was surprised in December when it received a bill for policing from the Leeds County OPP.
“They charge us the same in this new policing formula for a wind tower as they do for a house,” Mayor Denis Doyle said. “It costs us a lot of money.”
Frontenac Islands Township pays an average of about $300 per household for policing, meaning new policing fees for the wind turbines properties added almost $26,000 to the township’s policing bill for 2016.
“We were dumbfounded why our rate went up so much,” Doyle said, adding that township staff had to go back through the bill to find out the reason for the increase. “That’s gone way up from what we were expecting.”
Ontario sets tax rates on different types of properties depending on their use. Residential and commercial properties pay the full amount of property tax, while land being used for farming or forestry pay 25 per cent of the tax rate. Properties where wind turbines are located can only be taxed at a rate of five per cent of the full tax rate, Doyle said.
Many rural municipalities in Ontario have been struggling under rapidly rising policing costs, which have increased because of increases in wages and benefits in recent years. A few rural townships also face the prospect of having industrial wind energy projects built in their townships, whether welcome or not.
A spokesperson for the OPP Corporate Communications in Orillia said the cost for policing wind turbines is being looked at by the provincial government.
“At present, the issue of wind turbines is being reviewed and we expect a decision from the ministry in the near future,” said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. “Until that decision is made, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”
North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins said he knew cellphone towers were considered residences for police billing purposes.
“But I didn’t know wind turbines were included,” he said.
Read the story at The Whig here.
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