Saturday, June 22, 2024

Consultant hired to help guide economic development in MODG

  • May 22 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH — Expecting major, new industrial development over the next several years, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) will pay $170,160 over the next six months for advice on the best way to support that growth.

Council approved the consulting tender to Halifax economic research firm ATN Strategies – which lists on its website “inclusive economic and population growth plans” and “renewable energy development, including green hydrogen” among its skills – at its regular monthly meeting May 15.

“We’re such a small municipality that, if everything hits for us with these projects, we’ll need a plan in place to ensure that we can both maintain our [public] services and enhance them,” MODG Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Shawn Andrews told The Journal last week.

He added: “We’re talking about the EverWind Fuels and the Port Hawkesbury Paper [wind] projects, where we have agreements signed with them for community benefits, and everything [else] that goes along with a growing municipality ... [We have] to make sure that everyone is getting the services and opportunities that they deserve.”

Andrews stopped short of estimating the value of the new economic development projects on the municipality’s horizon, but granted that they “could be on the scale that would require infrastructure – workers and the worker requirements, such as housing; and the housing requirements, such as sewer and waste ... We have to take a 10,000-foot view of the impacts if all of these [projects] happen.”

Earlier this month, MODG signed a community benefits agreement (CBA) with EverWind that will see the latter pay the municipality approximately $1,000 for every megawatt of power its wind farms – located on municipal land – generate annually.

“We are targeting approximately two gigawatts [2,000 megawatts] over three main sites developed in phases,” EverWind Engagement Manager Mark Stewart told The Journal at the time, adding that the project is also expected to generate approximately $4.1 million annually in municipal commercial tax revenue based on $8,245 per megawatt. “The represents a substantial win for the community.”

According to a briefing note prepared for council by MODG Business Development Officer Sean O’Connor, ATN will be required to prepare a “community opportunity readiness evaluation for several large-scale industrial developments, including multiple renewable energy projects throughout the municipality.”

The scope of work includes: “A focus on MODG growth, business and job opportunities, project development and construction opportunities, operation and maintenance opportunities, support services opportunities, analysis of case studies and an interim business case study for a proposed MODG signature project.”

ATN – which won the contract after a month-long public tender process in April, with a score of 81.2, based on pricing and technical qualifications – has until January 2025 to deliver a final report. The two other proponents were Aberdeen International Associates (71) and Turner Drake & Associates (69) with bids of $152,050, and $165,281, respectively.