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Letter: Indoor turf facility worth investment, says Mauro –



On Aug. 10, city council passed a motion 9-4, still to be ratified on Aug. 24, endorsing the financing and tendering of a multi-use indoor turf facility, supported by administrative work showing a break-even or small surplus position on the annual operating budget for the facility. 

I appreciate that the scale of this project has raised some questions in the community.

First I want to address the tax implications. I, and others, ran on keeping taxes as low as possible and to this point, through two budgets, I feel we have done a reasonable job.

Since the beginning of our mandate, council has established a reserve fund of approximately $15 million dollars dedicated to the multi-use facility. Seven million dollars of that is from the federal government’s Gas Tax Program. The remainder is from other reserves, and the new Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) on hotel stays, a new revenue stream for the city that at this point totals $1.17 million, with more to come, to be applied to this project.

This means that at this point the combination of federal funding and MAT funding represents almost 25% of the project’s estimated costs. This $15 million will not lead to any new tax implications on a go forward basis for Thunder Bay businesses and homeowners.

The balance of the estimated cost, as contained in the motion passed at council, is to be financed through a debenture. There are many good reasons for financing large capital projects through long-term borrowing, which the city does every year, including leaving capacity for other capital projects, minimizing the near term impact of the project on current taxpayers and spreading the cost of the project over 25 years, allowing for future taxpayers and users to also pay for the facility.

The debenture, and its cost to taxpayers, will not come onto the city’s books until the completion of the two year construction project, which is estimated to be near the end of 2022 or early 2023.

While under construction, the project will be financed through Infrastructure Ontario. The estimated cost to the city will be $55,000 in 2021 and $234,000 in 2022. As a result, the expected tax implication for Thunder Bay taxpayers in the first two years will be approximately $300,000.

If the debenture has not been reduced within that two years through decisions of council, or successful application to federal/provincial funding streams, the cost to the median household in Thunder Bay will be $20 per year over 25 years. Again, that will not happen for two years.

The argument has been made that to go out for bid now prevents us from receiving future funding from the federal or provincial governments to put towards the project. That rule does apply to the ICIP program currently in place at the federal level, but there may be other opportunities to apply for funding for this project, and other infrastructure priorities that the city has.

The process described above may provide opportunity over two years for council to apply for other government funding and, if successful, apply it to and reduce the debenture, reducing the cost of the project, or to other projects as council determines.

Our announcement last week that the city had received $9.4 million jointly from the federal/provincial governments to deal with COVID-19 operating pressures for 2020 (currently projecting a $7 million shortfall) has greatly enhanced our fiscal position, understanding that challenges remain for 2021. To delay this project any further will add cost (the Stantec report from 2018 for a similar facility was $25 million, $8 million less) and potentially stall the project indefinitely.

To close, I want the citizens of Thunder Bay to know that my decision related to moving forward on the multi turf facility at this time was not something I’ve taken lightly. I see the facility, which the previous council listed as a priority need, as one that can be transformational in helping us build, and grow, a healthier and more vibrant community while we move to recover from the pandemic. Thank you.

Bill Mauro

Mayor, City of Thunder Bay

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Is Wind Energy The Most Stable Renewables Investment –



Is Wind Energy The Most Stable Renewables Investment? |

Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for 

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    Offshore wind

    The Covid-19 pandemic has wrought one of the most significant disruptions the energy market has ever faced.  A decidedly gloomy long-term future outlook due to rampant fossil fuel divestments, climate change policies, and decarbonization has been unexpectedly aggravated by a short-term, but even more severe, shock by the health crisis, and thrown the pivotal energy sector into one of its worst existential crises. Project developers, private capital, companies, institutional investors, and public markets have now shifted their attention to sustainable practices, businesses, and assets.

    Suddenly, everybody seems to be reading from the same page: We have to dramatically increase our investments in renewable energy and cut our heavy reliance on high-carbon fuels.

    Not surprisingly, wind power, the easiest to tap, most efficient renewable fuel for electricity generation, and one of the lowest carbon emitters, has gained special prominence in our clean energy transition. Offshore wind, in particular, is having its moment in the sun, with offshore wind investments quadrupling to $35 billion in the first half of 2020, representing the most growth by any energy sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

    Source: The Guardian

    Environmental crisis

    Wind power has earned an undeserved reputation as a bird and bat slayer; However, the truth is that domestic cats kill far more birds whereas wind turbines provide some of the cheapest and cleanest power around with one of the lowest environmental footprints. 

    Wind power, however, is now presenting an unforeseen environmental nightmare: Hundreds of thousands of aging wind turbine blades are coming to the end of their lives with the majority having nowhere to go but landfills.

    Unbeknownst to many clean energy buffs, wind turbine blades are typically made of non-biodegradable fiberglass or carbon fiber materials, meaning they are doomed to lay unchanged in their earthy pits for an eternity and create another environmental headache.

    Wind power is practically carbon-free, with roughly 85% of turbine components, including steel, gearing, copper wire, and electronics gearing easily recycled or reusable. Modern wind turbines are mostly made of steel, a material that is readily recyclable.

    Turbine blades, however, are a different story altogether. Related: String Of Bullish News Sends Oil Rallying Above $40

    Conventional turbines must withstand enormous strain, considering that your typical turbine can reach speeds of 180 mph and generate huge centrifugal forces and other high-impact type stresses. Further, offshore wind turbines frequently encounter particularly hostile weather conditions, including category-5 storms leading to the blades deteriorating significantly in quality over time. To ensure wind turbines meet the strength and versatility demands to perform reliably for at least two decades or so, wind turbine blades are typically constructed from a fiber/resin composite. 

    Unfortunately, these materials have so far proven to be particularly difficult to recycle. 

    Compounding this is the sheer size and bulk of your average turbine blade: Turbine blades can reach lengths longer than a Boeing 747 wing, thus making them cumbersome to handle and transport. To get a rough idea of their sheer sizes, consider that in 2018, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind launched the first commercially available double-digit turbine, the V164-10.0 MW that features 80-meter long blades weighing 35 tons each with a tip height of around 187 meters. Meanwhile, GE Renewable Energy is currently developing the Haliade-X 12 MW, a massive turbine with a capacity of 12 megawatts, a blade length of 107 meters and a height of 260 meters.

    Given their gargantuan proportions, the first step on the way to their final resting place usually involves using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to cut through the lissome fiberglass to create smaller pieces that can be strapped to a tractor-trailer.

    But the problem does not end there. Wind farms tend to be installed and commissioned in stages, meaning large numbers of blades can simultaneously reach their end-of-life, thus threatening to flood waste processing facilities lacking sufficient storage or specialized equipment to handle them. Even worse, some studies have found that wind turbines are wearing out much sooner than their often stipulated life expectancy of 20-25 years.

    Future Solutions

    If the unfolding situation sounds alarming, consider that the wind power revolution is just getting started.

    The U.S. wind industry commissioned 9,143MW worth of new installations in 2019, the third-highest figure for new wind power capacity installations in the country’s history. According to the latest energy report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the country’s total installed wind capacity clocked in at 105.6 GW by the end of the year, supplying about 2.5% of the country’s energy needs.

    This helped renewable energy to overtake coal in the nation’s energy mix for the first time ever.


    Source: EIA

    But all that could soon look like a dress rehearsal for the burgeoning industry.

    Related: Oil Bulls Return As OPEC+ Reassures Markets

    The IEA has predicted that offshore wind power is set to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040. Meanwhile, the Global Wind Energy Council, an international trade association, estimates that wind power deployments across the globe will clock in at 2,110 GW by 2030–or nearly a fourfold increase–and supply 20% of global electricity. That will translate into 2.4 million new jobs created and lower CO2 emissions by more than 3.3 billion tons.

    It will also mean having to deal with millions of tons more of wind turbine waste.

    Thankfully, industry experts are already hard at work looking for solutions for the growing wind power menace. 

    Whereas three-bladed turbines have become the standard model of clean energy generation, things are unlikely to remain that way for long with engineers hunting for more efficient and cost-effective models. One futuristic design with serious street cred is the bladeless wind turbine. Vortex Bladeless has created prototype bladeless turbines that utilize the gyroscopic motion of wind towers to generate energy. The company says the design could potentially cost 50% less than conventional turbines and withstand wear and tear better.

    Other companies have recognized that burying turbine blades into perpetuity is hardly a viable long-term solution and are developing novel solutions to get rid of decommissioned turbine blades. One such company is Global Fibreglass Solutions, a startup that uses chemical methods such as solvolysis or pyrolysis, where very high temperatures destroy the binder material leaving behind the fibers to be dealt with separately. The resulting material is pressed into pellets and fiberboards that can be used for flooring and walls.

    Global Fibreglass says it can effectively process 99.9% of a standard turbine blade and boasts the capacity to process 6,000 to 7,000 blades a year per plant. But until the construction industry warms up to the idea of using turbine debris as building materials, a handful of municipal and commercial landfills that accept them in Lake Mills, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Casper can expect to continue having their hands full.

    Meanwhile, giant waste utility Waste Management Inc. is working closely with renewable energy companies to develop an effective solution for windmill blade processing, recycling, and disposal. 

    By Alex Kimani for

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      Openspace Ventures Welcomes New Team Members and Announces First Investment from OSV+ – Stockhouse



      SINGAPORE, Sept. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Openspace Ventures, focused on investing in technology opportunities in Southeast Asia since 2014, is pleased to welcome new senior members to its team as it expands its platform during a dynamic phase of ongoing development for the region.

      Jessica Huang Pouleur will be joining Openspace as Executive Director and as a Member of the Investment Committee of OSV+. Jessica has been focused on Southeast Asian opportunities in TMT for over ten years. Most recently, she was Head of Strategy & Business Development, Asia Pacific for The Walt Disney Company, based in Singapore (including Southeast Asia, India, Greater China, Japan, Australasia and the Middle East). In this capacity, Jessica led and oversaw strategic initiatives and managed Disney’s investment and M&A activity across Asia-Pacific including key aspects of its US$71bn acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Prior to that she was with Providence Equity Partners for ten years, including most recently as Director based in Singapore leading the evaluation and management of growth-stage investment opportunities across the Southeast Asian region.

      Southeast Asia is evolving rapidly as a market and my experience at Disney and Providence has given me great perspective on the exciting opportunity set. Good investment opportunities start with clear understanding of diverse regional consumer dynamics supported by relevant product development and leading technology. I am excited to join Openspace where I have known the Partners for a long time and watched with admiration as their team has helped build some of the best companies in the region,” said Jessica.

      Aristo Setiawidjaja will be joining Openspace as Senior Advisor – Indonesia. He is a Board member and Managing Director of Hermina Hospitals, the largest private hospital network in Indonesia. Prior to that, he was a Director at Olympus Capital and the Head of Indonesia – Investment Banking at Daiwa. Coming from operations background at Kohler Company, he started his finance career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. He is also active in the Executive Committee of the impact chapter of Young President’s Organization (YPO).

      “As we deal with the new normal due to COVID and rethink how daily life will change in its aftermath, there are plenty of emerging opportunities in Indonesia and the region. I am looking forward to contributing my perspectives to Openspace in sectors it is investing, which coincide with my domain knowledge of the sectors,” commented Aristo.

      The joining of Jessica and Aristo coincides with the first investment to be made by Openspace out of OSV+, a newly established Opportunity Fund focused on mid-stage technology investing. OSV+ will primarily participate in mid-stage rounds in existing Openspace portfolio companies which are attracting strong mid-stage investor interest. It will also selectively make new growth-stage deals in investments that can benefit from the Openspace approach to supporting technology and strategy development across Southeast Asia. The first investment of OSV+ will be in Biofourmis, a leading global healthtech company which recently announced a US$100mn Series C with leading investors Softbank, Sequoia India and MassMutual Ventures. Openspace led the Series A in 2017 and participated in the Series B in 2019 and is one of the largest non-management shareholders in the business.

      “Openspace is now operating four funds across the region with a team of 25 diverse individuals delivering on the unique requirements of technology investing in Southeast Asia. We welcome our new team members who add to this diversity and skill set. The investment environment is attractive during this phase and we will keep executing on our busy pipeline,” said Shane Chesson, Founding Partner at Openspace.

      About Openspace Ventures

      Openspace Ventures focuses on investments in technology companies based in Southeast Asia. It operates out of offices in Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok with a team of 25 people across 10 different nationalities. Since launching in 2014, Openspace Ventures is now managing over US$350mn of total committed capital across three funds focused on Series A/B opportunities. Openspace Fund I has been identified as a top 5% global performer by Cambridge Associates and Preqin compared to global benchmarks. It also operates OSV+ which is an Opportunity Fund addressing the mid-stage technology opportunity in Southeast Asia with a focus on follow-ons from existing portfolio and new situations relevant to Openspace technology operations and regional value-add. Openspace has invested in 30 companies across the region including Gojek, Halodoc, Biofourmis, FinAccel, Love, Bonito, Tanihub, Tradegecko, Kumu and Whispir. More information on Openspace can be found on

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      Fiber Cement Siding: Worth the Investment? – MSN Money



      a close up of a brick building: Fiber Cement Siding: Worth the Investment?

      © Provided by Millionacres
      Fiber Cement Siding: Worth the Investment?

      A property’s exterior says a lot about it, and investing in the right siding can help attract buyers and help a home sell quickly. That’s good news whether you’re selling your own home or flipping a house to sell.

      But which siding material should you choose? If your goal is to make your property look more attractive while increasing its resale value, fiber cement could make a lot of sense.

      Fiber cement vs. other siding

      A few key ingredients go into fiber cement siding:

      • Water
      • Wood pulp
      • Fly ash or silica sand as filler
      • Portland cement

      Fiber cement is a popular siding option for a few reasons. First, fiber cement is extremely durable, and if installed correctly, it’s designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.

      Fiber cement also looks great. Often, it mimics the look of painted wood, only it doesn’t require nearly the same level of maintenance as wood siding, which can rot over time. Wood is also subject to termite damage, whereas fiber cement is not.

      The one thing fiber cement doesn’t always do the best job of, however, is insulate. In that regard, you may be better off with vinyl siding. But from an aesthetic standpoint, you might feel fiber cement offers a more natural look than vinyl.

      What’s the cost to install fiber cement siding?

      The average cost to install fiber cement siding is $19,700, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That’s definitely more expensive than vinyl siding, which costs $15,800 on average.

      On the other hand, with fiber cement siding, you’ll get a better return on investment. The NAR reports that those who install fiber cement add $15,000 of resale value as a result, which means they recoup 76% of their investment. With vinyl siding, the cost recovery is just $10,000, which means 63% of that investment is recouped.

      Should you install fiber cement siding?

      Fiber cement siding looks attractive and has a relatively high cost recovery value. If your existing siding is worn and needs to be replaced or you’re completely flipping or building a house from scratch that needs siding, it’s worth looking at fiber cement, as it may offer more aesthetic appeal than vinyl.

      That said, if you’re thinking of installing fiber cement siding for a home you plan to live in yourself, you should know there will be more maintenance involved. With vinyl siding, you’ll usually just power-wash your exterior once or twice a year to keep it clean. Fiber cement siding, however, may need to be recaulked or repainted every few years, so make sure you’re up for that level of maintenance (or have the means to outsource it) before moving forward. In addition to that, prepare to power-wash your fiber cement siding once or twice a year the same way you would vinyl siding.

      The bottom line

      All told, fiber cement could be a great addition to your home, one that contributes to its curb appeal for many years to come. The fact that it could add resale value is certainly something to factor into your decision.

      Get the ‘Dirt on the real estate market

      Are you looking for the next hot real estate market? Want to know how new rules and regulations could impact your next home purchase or real estate investment? Would you like to find out which improvements to your property will get you the most bang for your buck? We cover all these things and more in our newsletter, Paydirt.

      Sign up here to get our best insights delivered to you.

      The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. Editorial content from Millionacres is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.

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