Arran-Elderslie may invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Owen Sound Sun Times

Arran-Elderslie may invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its latest attempt to block unwanted wind turbine development.

At a special meeting of council Thursday, Coun. Mark Davis circulated a draft bylaw calling for protection of life, liberty and security of the person under section 7 of the charter, claiming wind turbines cause serious health effects and are a blight on the rural landscape.

“We owe it to our people to maintain their health and well-being . . . We don’t want Arran-Elderslie to look like Bruce Township,” with all of its wind turbines, said Davis. “It’s disgraceful and disgusting.”

Davis said he’s not being critical of neighbouring Bruce Township in Kincardine with rows and rows of wind turbines cluttering up the view, but it’s not what he wants to see in Arran-Elderslie.

“We don’t make much money farming but there are few things we do have and that’s some gorgeous homesteads that have taken one or two hundred years to create beautiful pastoral scenes. Those big things (wind turbines)  flopping around, they don’t work for me,” he said.

Mayor Ron Oswald said he expects council will support Davis’ proposal at Monday’s council meeting. Arran-Elderslie would then circulate the bylaw to all municipalities in Ontario for support.

Chatsworth, West Grey, Grey Highlands, Georgian Bluffs, Saugeen Shores and South Bruce are also considering the charter challenge as a way to discourage wind energy development projects in their municipalities. Representatives of all but Georgian Bluffs attended Thursday’s meeting in Chesley.

West Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles is optimistic that other municipalities across Ontario who are facing the same challenges under the province’s new Green Energy and Green Economy Act will support the call for a moratorium on further wind energy development until independent health studies can be conducted.

He said he’s heard of an application for a wind turbine along the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto that has sparked concern from a member of metro council and that may be what it will take to garner support for the opposition by rural municipalities.

“Once it gets to be something from an urban area our voice up here starts to be taken note of,” said Eccles, who supports the charter challenge.

“In the Green Energy Act there are very few options left for municipalities or individuals to put their voices forward,” he said.

Under provisions of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act passed in 2009 local approval under the Planning Act for renewable energy projects has been removed and replaced by provincial government approval.

The charter challenge is just part of the strategy planned by Arran-Elderslie to discourage and delay wind energy developers from pushing forward with their plans.

Davis advocates requesting that developers provide certificates issued by Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources confirming that the proposed wind generation facility being applied for does not cause ill health effects.

Saugeen Shores Deputy-mayor Doug Freiburger recalled a similar approach of creating obstacles and delays taken by Saugeen Shores a few years ago that successfully discouraged a wind energy developer who eventually gave up and went away.

“We just made it an inhospitable environment. At the time that was all we had to use and eventually the wind energy company decided to leave because they decided we weren’t going to be a good partner,” said Freiburger.

“Unfortunately the Green Energy Act has taken that away and doesn’t really allow us to do much in an inhospitable way. We have a right to comment on what is right for our municipalities.”

Freiburger recommended seeking support from local First Nations communities, which have the right to require developers to consult with them on any of their historic lands.

Grey Highlands Mayor Brian Mullin said he plans to seek a legal opinion first before introducing the Arran-Elderslie charter bylaw to his council.

One wind energy proposal in Arran-Elderslie is awaiting approval by the government. It’s approximately 76 turbines would be located near Burgoyne on the boundary with Saugeen Shores.

Davis said he’s confident that his council would defend a legal challenge to the bylaw.

He plans to attend a rally at Queen’s Park on Wednesday in support of a private member’s bill by Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones calling on the government to give municipalities back their Planning Act power for renewable energy projects.

Last October a motion by Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch calling for the government to impose a moratorium and undertake a health study to determine the potential impacts of wind turbines on people’s health was defeated by the government majority.

Since then Conservative Ted Arnott, MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills, introduced a similar motion last month, seeking a provincial moratorium until health studies are com­pleted.

5 thoughts on “Arran-Elderslie may invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

  1. I refer you all to an important Supreme Court Decision and precedent set in a landmark Canadian case on June 28, 2001. The town of Hudson, Quebec took a company called Spraytech to court over the issue of cosmetic use of pesticides in their jurisdiction. I have no comment on the case, itself, or on the motives behind it – what is important is the outcome and some of the far-reaching statments made by our Supreme Court concerning the importance and independence of municipal authority. I refer you to the website of Canadian Law Firm, Olgilvy Renault – and their interpretation of the salient aspects of this case. (http://www.ogilvyrenault.com/en/resourceCentre_1505.htm)

    I have cut and pasted a couple of pertinent paragraphs, below, although I would encourage everyone to read the entire document as I believe it could become the focus of Ontario municipalities, very soon, if the Ontario Government continues it’s reprehensible behaviour.

    “The Supreme Court held that, despite the very general nature of the powers granted to municipalities to adopt by-laws for the “general welfare” on their territory, these powers can be used to regulate not just pesticides but also any matter “concerning the welfare of the local community.” The Court held that these general welfare powers extend to the use and protection of the local environment, including the use of land and property and neighbourhood concerns…”

    “By acknowledging the validity of a detailed by-law on pesticides pursuant to the power of municipalities to make by-laws “for the general welfare,” despite the very specific wording of the enabling provision, the Supreme Court has recognized the broad character of the general power of municipalities to regulate any matters of local interest that aim to achieve objectives of public health and safety, although the provincial legislature has not granted the municipalities specific powers in this area.”

  2. A very inspiring article!!!! Thank you to councillor Mark Davis and comment from PECV I hope we the citizens of the municipality of Chatham-Kent are soon to follow this constitutional path of redress.

    Cheers

  3. In the long run will a municipality be more representative of the wishes of its inhabitants — or will they too fall to the temptation of “mis”-representation by population? That to me is the interesting question. Will we simply trade one problem for another?

    Can a Cabinet Minster — answer only to the Premier make new law? Can Parliament and the legislature be bypassed by people with their own agenda? It appears that right now they can be.

    There needs to be a challenge to the Green Energy Act, and also to the idea that a Cabinet Minister , under the direction of the Premier can make new law without reference to the legislature.

    Perhaps we do need to vote on every local issue — and yes even elect our dog-catchers. Is there another way?

  4. What we really need is a truly honest Municipal Council that will represent their electorate and question the actions of the Provincial Government on decisions affecting their neighbours and fellow townspeople.

    Right now with our Planning Authority ripped out from our Municipalities responsibilities these very Councils are now “redundant” and are really no longer needed. A Good Roads department is about all any Municipality needs and without any powers to wield, then let’s all save ourselves one layer of tax dollars and get rid of all Ontario Councils!……….OR make our Councils relevent and have them demand our Planning Authority to be returned to us as this Provincial Government should now be considered a “rogue Government” that cares nothing for it’s electorate and is only in power to drive this Province into Bankruptcy in the name of Investment!

  5. I am not a lawyer, but given the draconian legislation and the pushing aside of our rights as citizens, I always believed that this would likely be a valid Charter violation.

    So I am very pleased to hear that Arran-Elderslie may invoke the Charter. Go for it as some of the cases I hear being considered do not come close to this non-democratic government actions. They are scary bunch of misfits.

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