Amherstburg residents appeal turbine building permits

By Ron Giofu/The Amherstburg Echo

AMHERSTBURG — Building permits for GenGrowth’s five wind turbine project near Malden Centre look to be proceeding but nearby residents haven’t given up the fight.

“We are going to appeal them,” said Mick MacCorquodale.

MacCorquodale said he and several neighbors have concerns and a Windsor law firm has been hired. He said they will go through the Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of the permits but noted “there is a catch-22 there” with the window to appeal the permits 20 days and a possible 30 day period for the Freedom of Information request to be considered.

The goal is to have a court reject the permits, and MacCorquodale said their lawyer believes they may have some grounds. He acknowledged that had the town rejected the permit, it would likely have been appealed to the OMB but because of the residents’ appeal there hope for a hearing anyway.

“One way or the other, it’s going to get settled,” he said.

MacCorquodale said they want the town’s 600m setback enforced. He believes because the project was approved before the province’s Green Energy Act came into effect, the 600m setback from homes is the way to go. According to MacCorquodale, “I’ve seen nothing to say (GenGrowth)” isn’t subject to the 600m setback.

At a meeting with Ministry of Environment (MoE) officials last Tuesday, it was disclosed to town council that while no more than 40 decibels of sound can reach a nearby home, there are no conclusive ways at this point to properly measure the sound.

“It’s like driving a car without a speedometer,” said MacCorquodale.

Councillor Rick Fryer admits to being “very disappointed” with how the process has done. Referring to health information obtained last week, Fryer believes setbacks should be as high as 800-950m from homes. He believed GenGrowth found a “loophole” in the process due to the fact no site plan was finalized before the Green Energy Act came into power.

Fryer said the province seems “hell-bent” on moving forward with green energy projects but thought council should have done more in this case. He did state that council wanted to sit and discuss the matter with policy makers but got regional representatives at the meeting instead.

“It seems residents have no say,” he added.

Mayor Wayne Hurst stated at last week’s meeting, there were still questions over health issues. He noted the report that came before council was only recently tabled. Councillor Bob Pillon added that the 600m setback bylaw “should be in place” for the project.

Bill Anderson, another resident with a number of concerns with the project, asked how the province can approve projects when there is no conclusive way to measure sound. He also wondered how the 550m setback under the Green Energy Act was realized due to different population densities and elevations throughout the province.

“All of these things have an impact on this and how sound carries,” he said.

With the 600m setback bylaw but no site plan, Councillor John Sutton said they were in a “limbo period” and didn’t want the issue to progress too far too fast.

“All we are saying is can we get answers before we go too far and end up in a real kettle of fish,” said Sutton.

GenGrowth president Paul Merkur said when they approached the town initially, they were informed the bylaw was in place. He said the company found the bylaw “very restrictive” and sought to discuss the matter further with administration.

“There was no lies or pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes,” said Merkur.

Merkur said they have been approved by the MoE and they “meet or exceed” standards laid out by the government.

5 thoughts on “Amherstburg residents appeal turbine building permits

  1. What standard are they possibly meeting, if it is noise there is no way anyone can verify this according to MOE. Such lies!

    People forget that the noise assessment is based on a noise “model” which includes attenuation factors and parameters to allow for more noise (eg. higher wind speeds, higher noise levels allowed) which haven’t been truly measured in real world situations. It truly is a catch 22 we are dealing with and because the MOE seems to be completely misled on this issue or are in collusion with the wind industry, the general public is being duped.

  2. “There was no lies or pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes,” said Merkur.

    ahem…why did he feel the need to say that… ?

  3. Well, actually, my husband stood up and accused him of it, that’s why.

    I blame our planning dept and certain people on our council more than anything. They told Gengrowth behind closed doors not “to worry too much about the 600 m setback and they’ll just bend the rules if they have to”. I totally believe that took place.

  4. Who are these corporate bastards, now emboldened and empowered by the Provincial Government to push around property owners, taxpayers and their duly elected municipal officials in such a manner???

    If he thinks these bylaws are very restrictive he should look at the living conditions of the ENRON executives who walked this very road before him!

    I look forward to the day that Merkur and his like are rounded up and jailed – it is where they belong and where they will end-up. Long, hot, sweaty days swinging sledge hammers on the chain gang, breaking up tonnes and tonnes of Industrial Wind Turbine concrete …. a heart-warming vision.

  5. Those at the Ministry of Environment are bigger fools than those at the legislature. The MoE has foolishly allowed themselves to be put in such a liable position–finding themselves unable (and unwilling) to measure the sound level from IWTs to ensure the safety of nearby residents.

    Those employees, and their families, should be ashamed. Their stupidity is hurting a lot of people in this province–physically, emotionally, and financially.

    Life must be great when you can sit back on a big fat government salary, waiting for the day you don’t have to pretend to “serve the public” anymore–so that you can then retire early and sit back and collect a big fat government pension.

    Life’s not so great when the laziness and negligence of these public servants forces you out of your home, destroys your family and your financial stability.

    There is no need to lie about it, or attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone who has done an ounce of due diligence: this whole debacle is blatantly shocking, disgusting, and shameful.

    BTW – what IS the MoE doing to investigate the problems that may be inherent in noise modelling? Have they done ANY due diligence? (Are they accountable to anyone?)

    I bet they sit in their offices all day busily working up an artificial lather of self-appreciation and importance!

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