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Huge renewable energy project proposed for Canal District

All existing historic buildings will be maintained, developer promises

Sault Ste. Marie city councillors will get their first look Tuesday at a massive renewable energy project proposed for the historic Canal District.

Council will be briefed by David Ashbourne, senior land-use planner with Toronto-based Lakeshore Group, which is seeking local support for a $300-million battery energy storage initiative.

If approved, the lithium-ion or flow battery project will be built on repurposed St. Marys Paper lands, adjacent to the Francis H. Clergue Hydroelectric Generating Station.

Storage capacity is expected to be about 150 megawatts.

A pitch deck prepared for Tuesday's city council meeting indicates community consultations will take place through the fourth quarter of this year.

If approved, construction would begin in the fall of 2023, with commercial operations starting in May 2025.

The energy storage facility would add non-emitting energy capacity to the Ontario grid and improve reliability for PUC Services Inc. and Hydro One, Ashbourne will tell councillors.

Proponents of the project are:

  • SB Energy
  • Bioveld Energy Ventures
  • The BMI Group

BMI Group is headed by Justus, Paul and John Veldman.

A previous Veldman family initiative, Riversedge Developments, conceived and began the revitalization of the Canal District but was unable to complete the project, which was taken over by Tony Porco and SIS Group.

Riversedge also unsuccessfully attempted to redevelop the former Soo Falls/Northern Breweries site.

City council will be asked on Tuesday to approve a resolution of support for the new Canal District proposal.

In an unrelated matter, councillors will be asked Tuesday to grant heritage designation to the ‘yard locker’ building in the Canal District.

This week's city council meetings will be held on Tuesday, out of respect for Monday's day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.

The meeting will be live-streamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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