by Denis Langlois Owen Sound Sun Times
Coun. Mark Davis says he hopes other municipalities will follow Arran-Elderslie’s lead by passing bylaws aimed at reclaiming municipal control over wind farm developments.
He also hopes to amass a “war chest” to fight the province in court, if necessary.
“There’s strength in numbers,” the outspoken wind turbine critic said Friday.
Davis’s wind turbine control bylaw passed final reading this week at Arran-Elderslie council.
It argues that Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — the protection of life, liberty and security — trumps Ontario’s Green Energy Act, which controls wind farm development. Wind farm opponents say massive turbines cause serious health effects.
Since Arran-Elderslie passed its bylaw, the first of its kind, other local municipalities are sitting up and taking notice.
But while Davis said he would support spending taxpayer’s money to defend it, other political supporters are not so sure.
Chatsworth Mayor Howard Greig said he will soon ask his council to support a similar bylaw. He said it is too early to say whether or not he would support spending money to fight it, even though he believes the Charter of Rights argument “appears to have validity.”
“There certainly appears to be some health issues with them. These people can’t all be wrong,” he said.
West Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles said he will introduce a motion to his council Monday to direct staff to investigate drafting a similar control bylaw.
He said the Green Energy Act, which took control over turbines away from municipalities, is a “good thing.” But there is room for improvement.
He said Arran-Elderslie deserves credit for leading a difficult fight.
“I think they’re very bold,” he said.
Grey County council asked its staff, by motion last week, to investigate preparing a countywide wind turbine control bylaw to protect people’s health.
Only Southgate Mayor Don Lewis voted against it.
Lewis said he is not willing to spend taxpayer’s money to defend the bylaw. If a municipality is not prepared to “put its money where its mouth is,” then why bother with a bylaw that will have to be defended, he said.
“Therein lies the reason that I couldn’t support the bylaw,” he said.
Arran-Elderslie Mayor Ron Oswald has been asked to seek Bruce County’s support. Oswald has said he would not support spending taxpayer’s money to defend the bylaw.
Lorrie Gillis, an outspoken wind farm opponent, praised Arran-Elderslie for “spearheading” the municipal fight to resume wind farm control.
She said she is baffled as to why any municipality would vote against it.
“It’s simply asking for reclaiming our rights,” she said.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Murdoch asked the Ontario legislature last year to approve a moratorium on wind farm developments until the health effects are thoroughly investigated. The motion failed.
Two other Conservative MPPs have since tried, but also failed.