Turbines in Nanoose Bay pass first hurdle

5.8-metre structure still must be approved by the Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors

A Regional District of Nanaimo committee recommends that a Nanoose Bay resident be allowed to keep his wind power generator on his property, 14 metres closer to the high-tide mark than it’s supposed to be.

Syd Lee installed the 350 watt turbine on a 5.8 metre (19′) mast in his yard in Beachcomber this summer to maintain a steady supply of electricity to his ham radio, emergency communications equipment in the case of a power disruption.

A complaint from a neighbour brought it to the attention of RDN bylaw control who, initially said it would be OK fitting in with a flag pole exemption from the required 15-metre setback from the high-tide mark, but then declared it non-conforming.

Lee applied to the RDN board of variance which, only able to review based on hardship or very minor variances, said the generator had to be taken down.

Following the normal process Lee then applied to the electoral area planning committee which met this Tuesday and recommended allowing a relaxation of the setback and granting a building permit.

The recommendation will be forwarded to the main RDN board to go out to a public notification process before they consider the application.

Lee had fifteen letters of support and at least one vocal opponent who was worried about unsightly generators proliferating on the beach.

RDN manager of current planning Jeremy Holm said there wouldn’t be any legal precedent, but if they get a number of applications (this was the first), the RDN board could consider changing the bylaw.

Holm also said the 1987 bylaw may be out of date and Lee pointed out the RDN actively encourages “green” or alternative energy but doesn’t make it easy to legally install.