Samsung wind farm blows farmers off land

Testing in South Cayuga affects 486 leased hectares

by Daniel Nolan  Hamilton Spectator

SOUTH CAYUGA – A group of farm families are today vacating land on which they’ve toiled for decades to make way for a South Korean company’s plan to build wind and solar energy projects.

Nineteen farmers were advised a month ago they would need to make way for testing procedures by a consortium led by Samsung, which was given a controversial $7-billion deal by the Liberal government in January to create power facilities by 2015.

While some farmers were told to vacate the land for solar testing, others are — for now — only required to provide access to their properties for wind testing. But even those farmers will have to vacate after the growing season if the land proves acceptable.

About 486 hectares are involved and almost half of that was until today leased by Ed and Alice Kelly of South Cayuga Sideroad. They’ve grown corn and soybeans on the land for three decades and had already planted some of their crop for the year.

“We’re the ones that are affected the most,” said Alice Kelly, 52. “This was a big surprise.”

Notices were sent to the Kellys and other farmers May 7 by the Ontario Realty Corporation, which continues to own 2,145 hectares from a land bank of 5,050 hectares it assembled in the 1970s when South Cayuga was being considered for a city of 250,000 people.

The 19 farmers who lease 35 properties have received letters but ORC spokesperson Caroline Knight would not provide a breakdown of how many have to leave the land and how many are required only to provide access, because she said it would impact Samsung’s proprietary information.

Kelly said they were at first leery about the move because of the land loss but the government late last week provided a compensation package that took some of the sting away. Kelly said the province is compensating farmers for what they would have received from the selling of produce, plus compensation for what they spent on growing crops.

The Kellys planted 32 hectares of corn before they received the letter telling them they were losing the 202 hectares they lease.

“It’s pretty good compensation considering that we won’t be able to plant our crops and we won’t be able to rent it anymore,” said Kelly, who declined to give the dollar figure. “No farmer ever wants to lose land.”

Kelly said the unknown is whether after the testing farmers will be able to lease back land Samsung decides it does not need for its projects. Kelly said they’ve been told the province is leaving that up to the consortium.

“We just hope in the following years if they do not (need it) that farmers that rented a piece of land could rent it back again,” she added. “That would be nice, but that’s up in the air.”

Knight confirmed farmers would be compensated on a lease-by-lease case.

South Cayuga is eyed for 55 wind turbines. Samsung aims to produce 2,500 megawatts from solar and wind in Haldimand and Essex counties and the municipality of Chatham-Kent, equivalent to 4 per cent of Ontario’s total electricity consumption. The province has told the Ontario Power Authority to provide Samsung with 500 MW of transmission capacity, angering others looking to create energy projects.

The Haldimand Federation of Agriculture passed a resolution at its May meeting and forwarded it to Ontario Federation of Agriculture as well as Haldimand County questioning the wisdom of “substantial solar farm development” on farmland. It is asking the province to prohibit further development on “land capable of sustained plant growth” and shift solar outfits to urban, commercial and industrial sites. It argues the loss of land may harm the environment. The federation urges closer examination.

HFA president Wayne Nyomtato and treasurer Frank Sommer say they do not know details of the ORC’s termination of leases.

“We’re quite concerned about the loss of farmland or any pasture that can grow crops,” Sommer said. “These solar panels — what we’re saying is there are acres of rooftops and why not cover them first. … It doesn’t make sense to me.”

“It’s not a NIMBY kind of thing,” Nyomtato said. “What we’re against is this solar farming on good land.”

Haldimand County supports the energy projects, but Mayor Marie Trainer said it has been left out of the loop on ORC’s actions. “The county does not have any say in this,” she said.

A Samsung official did not respond to e-mails seeking comments.

dnolan@thespec.com

22 thoughts on “Samsung wind farm blows farmers off land

  1. A Corporate take over of our land facilitated by the Provincial Liberal Majority Government and our esteemed Premier Dalton McGuinty. Less crops produced in Ontario. Farmers forced to leave land they cropped for generations.

    Ladies, please knit the names: McGuinty, Gerretson, Smitherman, Duguid and Dr. Arlene King into a blanket. After the REVOLUTION they can go to the Guillotine!

    Dark Days ahead folks.

  2. What the hell is going on with this province?

    When our grandchildren and great grandchildren look back in history. What will they think?

    1. Why did people give up farmland that could be used to produce food?

    2. Why did they dump thousands of pounds of concrete and destroy the Oak Ridges Moraine the most precious water source”the rain barrel” to build these massive steel structures that are rusting and not even working?

    3. Why did we sell out Ontario water to other countries?

    4. Why cant many residents afford to buy a house, let alone pay for the hydro to run it?

    5. Why did they allow gas powered peaker plants to support wind turbines inconsistent energy production to be placed on valuable greenspace?

    Honestly, where is the common sense with planning. We need to consider future farming and protection of water.

    Children could do a much better job with planning and protecting our valuable resources. This is astounding.

    Residents across the province should be allowed to vote via internet on these massive life changing decisions. It is obvious those elected can make reasonable decisions.

    Revolt is needed… Residents of Ontario need to have a say before Ontario is sold out before our eyes.

  3. This is yet another reason for every Ontario resident to run to the polls in October 2011 and remove the Liberal MPPs from office.

    First, we turn our farm land over to Samsung so they can erect solar panels and wind turbine towers, putting our farmers out of work.

    Then, we buy imported canned goods from China, since we have little land left to grow our own crops, or it’s too expensive to do so because our farms can’t afford the high-cost of electricity that we’ll be paying for while Samsung gets rich.

    I agree with ms. Sutch: What the hell is going on in this province?

  4. This is just the sell-out of Ontario to the orient by the McGuinty Liberals.
    Last evening I watched a TV programme about the collapse of the Maya civilization in S. America. According to them 2012 is doomsday year. I’m beginning to agree. It will be doomsday for rural Ontario if this dictator is allowed to continue his hare-brained schemes.
    Vote him out, vote him out.

  5. We have an Ontario Liberal Government that has gone FASCIST on us….We need recalls provisions in Ontario to prevent this type of Government TYRANNY in the future….

  6. “It’s pretty good compensation considering that we won’t be able to plant our crops and we won’t be able to rent it anymore,” said Kelly, who declined to give the dollar figure. “No farmer ever wants to lose land.”
    This farmer can be bought and sold at a price, and sell out their neighbours as well. Could they really need to farm at all? Why couldn’t they sell to their neighbours if they were that bad at farming that they had to sell to Samsung?

  7. Now you have the PROOF that this Government is on a it’s way to take over all Farmland, remove unwanted Rural Residents from prime lands and force them to live in high density housing in a polluted cityscape, bleed every dollar from the taxpayers coffers until the Province is broke, and to finish it off get thrown out of office and allow the next “band of carpet baggers” to reap the profits of being a total Tyranny!

    Oh yeahh, the gutless leader didn’t even have the nerve to mention this during the open session of Parliament…………waited until he was safe in his cottage!

    Did I miss anything?

  8. In a previously posted article it mentioned that OPA rules say Class 1 & 2 farmlands
    aren’t eligible for renewable energy uses.
    Would anyone out there have knowledge of S. Cayuga’s land classification? Would be interesting to see if the government is breaking its own rules.

  9. Actually, it is only SOLAR that is not allowed on Class 1 & 2. Wind is still allowed on prime agricultural lands. I know many areas are not yet mapped as to classification so they can get around it that way?

  10. Thanks David! There is a dispute right now in Amherstburg. Apparently, the solar projects that received their C of A before the GEA don’t have to follow these rules.

    Wow, the Essex map was created in 1949. These maps show the type of soil (loam, clay, etc.) but it does not specify if they are Class I, II, etc.

  11. The Chair of the OPA just got a project approved for a company he owns in Northern Ontario so I don’t really think there are any rules or laws governing anything the Government wants to do anymore.

    Seriously. When was the last time McGuinty has followed the rules or regulations that once ruled our land?…If he wanted to build a solar farm over top of the Holland Marsh he would just do it!

    This Government is no longer accountable and their “right to entitlement” has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    A1 designation means NOTHING anymore!

  12. Looks like it is probably class 3 – I found this from an OPA page:
    OPA may enter FIT contracts for ground-mounted solar PV projects > 100 kW located on Class 3 soils up to 500 MW Exemption

    Up to 500 MW … hmmmm.
    Korean syndicate was said to be 2000 MW wind and 500 MW solar if I recall correctly.

  13. The Ontario “Liberals”, along with the federal CONservatives, who are in the process of ramming through legislation which will allow for the bypassing of environmental assessments, have FORFEITED THEIR RIGHT TO GOVERN. Henceforth, I shall refer to them as “The Government”.

  14. One final post here: Where is the South Cayuga Council on this matter?

    It’s alright to lay blame at the feet of the people who we don’t expect to have any moral interest in an act like this, mainly the Provincial “mandarins” but what has the town council have to say about this utter and final destruction of farmland?

    That should be the very first stop on the “bandwagon of outrage” that has started here!

    If any member of that council says they can’t do anything about it because of Provincial regs then they should be fired and replaced with someone who gives a sh%t about their very own electorate!

  15. I have been thinking about these designations… They are duplicated below.

    First I urge people to look at google maps, then refer to the map link above and find the map for Cayuga. Just type in “South Cayuga Ontario” in Google maps — it will take you the right spot. Choose the Satellite representation as opposed to the map — menu is on upper right of map.

    There is a lot of farm land that is designated “Class three” that appears to be in regular usage.

    The bottom line is that I think that at least Class 2 and Class 3 land should be included in any ban — otherwise we are going to have a lot more cities and a lot more industrial usage of productive land.

    I think they got it wrong on this one.

    (Yes I studied Agriculture at one point — a few years worth. My misspent youth and all that!)

    http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

    You can argue about land productivity till the cows come home 🙂 — but we need to protect more than we do with a “Class 1” designation. I don;t think the designations give an accurate feel as to the value of the land in Classes 2 & 3 — and maybe even Class 4. Even pasture land has a lot of value!

    Designations here…

    Class 1 – Soils have no significant limitations in use for crops. Soils are level to nearly level, deep, well to imperfectly drained, and
    have good nutrient and water holding capacity. They can be managed and cropped without difficulty. Under good management they
    are moderately high to high in productivity for the full range of common field crops.

    Class 2 – Soils have moderate limitations that reduce the choice of crops, or require moderate conservation practices. These soils
    are deep and may not hold moisture and nutrients as well as Class 1 soils. The limitations are moderate and the soils can be
    managed and cropped with little difficulty. Under good management these soils are fair to moderately high in productivity for a
    wide range of field crops.

    Class 3 – Soils have moderately severe limitations that reduce the choice of crops or require special conservation practices.
    Limitations are more severe than Class 2 soils. They may affected the following practices: timing and ease of tillage; planting and
    harvesting; choice of crops; and methods of conservation. Under good management these soils are fair to moderately high in
    productivity for a wide range of common field crops.

    Class 4 – Soils have severe limitations that restrict the choice of crops, or require special conservation practices and/or very careful
    management. The limitations severely affect one or more of the following practices: timing and ease of tillage; planting and
    harvesting; choice of crops; and methods of conservation. These soils exhibit low to moderate productivity for a narrow to wide range
    of common field crops, but may have higher productivity for a specially adapted crop.

  16. How much did the Liberals pay people to move. HOW MUCH WAS THE BRIBE? This is our money not Mcguintys. Passive protest will not and do not work with this govt. There must be accountability for politicians after they are thrown out of office, and I suggest massive fraud, embezzlement, theft,bribery investigations because even a moron knows that if I take $20 from you and give you back$10 and call it even then eventually you go broke. Stop the Liberals and investigate the money flow. We pay for these subsidies not the liberals, who do they think they are?n Enough

  17. Regarding land use classification. Back in the 80’s, I worked with the OMAF and they funded a land use survey with aerial photos and on the ground surveys of the actual crops grown in a typical farm season. Much of the land was in crop rotation so they looked at the actual crops growing on every farm in Ontario. My partner and I drove all over Ontario, looking at crops and confirming the aerial photo information. This type of information is critical for planning the types of programs that should be offered and what type of supports the agricultural community needed. It shouldn’t be too hard to do this again, or to use the information already gathered in order to properly site PV and wind turbines. To say that it’s class 1 or 2 or 3 is disingenuous. If it’s being farmed, it is useful and should not be changed to an industrial usage like power generation. There is plenty of land that can be used for renewable energy plants, and it doesn’t have to be useful agricultural land.

  18. Here in Brock Township in North Durham Region solar farms are going on Class 1,2 and 3 farmland because of a zoning loophole. If the farmland is not zoned strictly for agricultural use then solar farms are allowed on under the Green Energy Act. Brock has zoned their farmland Rural which allows for other things beside farming.
    Brock Township and Durham Region do not agree with this but have no power to stop them.

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