Wellington County to obtain legal opinion on wind turbines

Wellington County Warden, Joanne Ross-Zuj

by David Meyer  Wellington Advertiser

ELORA – Municipalities across Wellington County are quietly working away at the issue of wind turbines, Centre Wellington councillors learned at their committee of the whole meeting on Monday.

Council considered a re­c­om­mendation that the township request the county share the legal opinion it obtains, in confidence, with the township, when it is completed.

At its May meeting, county council sought a legal opinion about the powers the county and its member municipalities have to regulate wind energy and other renewable or alternative energy projects.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj, who is also county warden, told council the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario are both now tak­ing a stand on the issue. She added the Rural Ontario Municipal Asso­ciation (ROMA) is looking for a bigger voice about the tur­bines. Those are lobby groups for municipalities.

Ross-Zuj added the West­ern Warden’s Association, of which she is a member, has “real concerns with the process and wind energy.”

She said Wellington repre­sen­tatives are “working collec­tively with our organizations.” She added a number of muni­ci­palities have also passed by­laws about renewable energy projects, and Centre Wellington to date has passed one stating it wants a moratorium until health issues are checked by a third party.

Ross-Zuj said the county felt it made sense to obtain one legal opinion, rather than have all the municipalities get another seven opinions on their own. She said the legal informa­tion from the county  will advise all local municipalities what positions they might want to take and any bylaws they might want to pass.

She said all the resolution was recommending is to share that legal information.

Councillor Walt Visser said his ward is the most affected by the wind turbine proposal currently, and “my residents are very concerned about the process.”

He said some are asking him about taking legal action.

Ross-Zuj explained she had met with Janet Vallery and Dave Hurlburt earlier in the day, and gave them an update on what is happening. They are leaders of the Oppose Belwood Wind Farm group.

Ross-Zuj said, “They were pleas­ed with the update and the county council leadership role.”

Visser thanked her for that report.

Council then unanimously approved the recommendation. Councillor Ron Hallman was absent.

6 thoughts on “Wellington County to obtain legal opinion on wind turbines

  1. This represents good leadership from Wellington County and Oppose Belwood Wind Farm group…looking for Counties, municipalities and other Wind Concerns members to start working together so that we can get the Ontario Liberal Government’s attention legally or politically…

    The Tories better WAKE up and start paying attention to these issues surrounding the FAKE Green Energy Act if they ever hope to form a Government…

    Hoping that Andre Marin starts to examine the processes being followed and the corruption over this boondoggle spending, now that the rehiring Gong show is over….

  2. This is just so much hot air!……………to seek a legal opinion after the fact is nothing more than a “Red Herring” for those Councilors (trying to hold onto their lucrative jobs) who didn’t have the guts to bang on the doors of Queens Park when our Democratic Rights were ripped out from under us on May 9/2009 with the passing of Bill 150.

    The AMO’s home page displays a wonderful view of massive elegant Wind Turbines……………they are “lobby groups” for Municipalities?…………………NOT!…….they have sold out to McGuinty like every other fake organization like the OFA and others who make money off unsuspecting landowners…………..the only people who KNOW and will address this CRIME is us!…..the PEOPLE!…………….WE have to take back our towns and run the bums out of office……..forget the Conservatives…they started this mess…………..WE are the only ones who WE can trust!

  3. Just like the nature organizations, these municipal “lobbyists” are simply too late.

    We have been after them for 4 years and were met with silence and apathy. They have failed rural Ontario miserably.

  4. They failed to care about a Bill taking municipal rights away, and are wanting to be heard now?
    Come down to Queens Park with us and stand with your fellow neigbours.


    What needs to be asked here by the area and Belwood residents is why the secrecy, and why now, when Council was asked to support Mapleton’s resolution at the March 15 2010 Committee of the Whole meeting by the Belwood Delegation, Mayor Ross-Zuj “indicated Council will consider additional support at a future meeting.” This took place on March 22 2010 at Council’s meeting and it puzzles me as to why there was no mention of the Belwood Delegation’s presentation at the March 15 2010 Committee of Whole meeting.

    Further it should be questioned, rather than riding on the coat tails of another municipality, namely Mapleton, and showing support for Mapleton’s resolution what was or better still, what is being shown to be done for the taxpayers that they represent by way of making their own resolution? Why wasn’t this done? Is it going to be done? This is June and thus far there is no by-law nor is there even a resolution which applies to our area.

    Mapleton’s resolution was received by Council on December 16TH 2009, in my opinion the only reason council did anything was the fact that Belwood and area residents had become aware of Invenergy Wind Canada Proposal to put between 25 and 35 wind turbines in the Belwood area and I am confident in saying that had there been no proposal, council would not have supported Mapleton’s resolution.

    March 15 Committee of the Whole meeting:

    What needs to be asked is why are they looking for this legal opinion now and really for what purpose is it going to serve. We all know under the GEA the only thing that is required from municipalities is that they are going to have to sign off on the Building Permit and municipalities can’t say no just for the sake of saying no. In my opinion, and I hope that I am wrong, the legal opinion will state what we all already know, which is that the County and its member municipalities have no power whatsoever in the regulation of wind energy and other renewable or alternative energy projects because the power that the municipalities had under the 2005 Policy Statement was taken away by the 2009 Green Energy Act. Wasn’t this conveyed to the Belwood Delegation, as follows;

    At the March 15 2010 Committee of the Whole meeting minutes, the mayor,
    “thanked the delegation and indicated the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is responsible for the approval of the applications related to renewable energy facilities and local Councils have no approval authority with respect to the proposed Belwood project. Mayor Ross-Zuj encouraged residents and concerned citizens to direct their letters to the Honourable John Gerretsen, Minister of the Environment to ensure they will be considered as part of the Ministry’s evaluation of the wind energy project. Therefore why at this time are they sending a letter to the Minister. It is quite obvious that they know exactly where they stand as far as what authority they have and do not have. What is the REAL reason for the letter to the Minister. I’m asking people to connect the dots.

    June 14 Committee of the Whole meeting:

    FROM the Committee of the Whole, page 49, this past Monday June 14TH 2010.

    REPORT CAO2010-06



    Committee of the Whole Michael Wood, CAO

    June 14, 2010

    Renewable Energy Approvals for Wind Energy


    THAT the Council of the Township of Centre Wellington requests the County of Wellington to share in confidence with the Township the legal opinion, when completed, which the County has asked its legal counsel to prepare concerning the powers which the County and its member municipalities have to regulate wind energy and other renewable or alternative energy projects.


    At its meeting on May 27, 2010, Wellington County Council approved the following recommendation from its Planning Committee:

    “THAT the Chief Administrative Officer obtain a legal opinion on the powers of Wellington County Council or its local municipalities to regulate wind energy and other renewable or alternative energy projects.”

    Various efforts and approaches have been taken in a number of Ontario municipalities to try to prevent or regulate the establishment of wind energy and other alternative energy projects.

    In view of the actions that have been taken elsewhere, the resolution above which was passed by the County Council is timely as it will provide expert legal guidance which will be a valuable backdrop for policy formulation.

    It is recommended that the County Council be requested to share the legal opinion, when it has been received, with the Township’s solicitor, as it will be very relevant for Centre Wellington.

    Attached for Council’s information is a copy of a letter dated April 27, 2010 to the Minister of the Environment which was discussed at the Committee of the Whole on April 19th. It sets out various issues and concerns which Council has with the process for consideration of renewable energy projects.

    Staff is continuing to encourage residents, who have concerns about these projects, to submit their comments directly to the Minister of the Environment.

    Attachments: Letter dated April 27, 2010 to the Minister of the Environment

    Prepared by: Michael K. Wood, CAO

  6. Reminder to residents of the Township of Centre Wellington:

    – Letter by MP Michael Chong dated March 11 2010 to Minister of Environment concerning Invenergy Wind Canada ULC is proposing a wind farm project consisting of 25 to 35 wind turbines in an area five kilometers northwest of Belwood, Ontario. Many people have voiced concerns that this project will negatively impact a number of migratory birds and species at risk, as of this date no known acknowledgements and or response.

    – Letter which was sent by Mayor Ross-Zuj to Minister of the Environment dated April 27 2010, as of this date no known acknowledgements and or response.

    – Letter dated June 14 2010 by CAO, to “obtain a legal opinion on the powers of Wellington County Council or its local municipalities to regulate wind energy and other renewable or alternative energy projects”, as of this date no known acknowledgements and or response.

    – As of this date The Township of Centre Wellington has of yet to come up with its own By-law regarding wind turbines. Rather they have chosen to still ride the coat tails of a neighboring municipality’s By-law and as a result still doing nothing for their own residents.
    Please note this is in no way disrespectful of Mapleton’s By-Law as there is a wind farm being built within the boundaries of Arthur.

    We would like to see a “made” in the Township Centre Wellington By-law. However there is no likelihood of this ever happening because they have danced around this matter from the beginning only making it appear that they are concerned. If they were truly as apprehensive of wind turbines as the area residents of Belwood are the township would have already taken on the same stand as Arran-Elderslie council has.

    “Yeah, I know they would need to grow a pair.”

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