Western Ontario Wardens discuss wind farm issue

by Francis Baker, Fergus-Flora News Express

Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj has taken local concerns about wind energy to the Western Wardens Association.

The province’s Green Energy Act and the siting of large wind turbine “farms” in agricultural areas was one of the major topics the group discussed at a meeting last week, she said.

The Western Wardens brings together heads of counties in southwestern Ontario to lobby the provincial and federal governments on behalf of local municipalities – Ross-Zuj is in her second term as Wellington County Warden.

“We’re trying to collectively take a position (on wind energy) from the Western Wardens to send to the provincial government,” she said.

With plans for wind farms near Belwood and an organized residents’ group in opposition, wind energy is a “huge concern” to Ross-Zuj and Centre Wellington Council.

Mapleton mayor and former county warden John Green is also facing wind farm proposals in his township, and along with Dufferin Warden Allen Taylor, are looking forward to a meeting with the province to talk about wind energy issues, Ross Zuj said.

But she points out the Green Energy Act which is driving wind farm proposals is law – and has taken most of the ability of municipalities to control wind farms out of municipal hands.
The Oppose Belwood Wind Farms group has suggested there are still many avenues open to municipalities to make things difficult for wind farm promoters – passing a variety of bylaws that obstruct or delay proposals in the hopes of getting changes or getting wind energy companies to drop plans altogether.

But Ross-Zuj said municipalities are moving cautiously because they’re faced with provincial legislation, and there may be legal risks involved.

“All of us collectively at the wardens level received legal advice,” she said. “We want to take the best, most appropriate action to assist municipalities in their opposition to wind turbines.”
Ross-Zuj said municipalities – local and county – have to tread carefully.

“Certainly we aren’t ignoring any of the concerns that our residents have with wind turbines,” she said.

County-based economic development plans, and getting more affordable housing for some areas were also among the priority topics discussed at the meeting.

Wellington County has been fortunate in getting affordable housing allocation, she said – a 55-unit building in Fergus is accepting tenants now.

“Other municipalities have not been so lucky,” she said. “Affordable housing just is not within the reach of many municipalities.”

Working with organizations like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and Association of Municipalities of Ontario the Western Wardens provides a bigger and more powerful voice on issues concerning many individual municipalities, when dealing with upper levels of government.

2 thoughts on “Western Ontario Wardens discuss wind farm issue

  1. I agree with the approach suggested by the Oppose Belwood Wind Farms group…along with the other legal initiatives….and they need to be adopted by all the counties and municipalities to slow down or stop the processes in the FAKE Green Energy Act…

  2. MORE SMOKE AND MIRRORS

    “All of us collectively at the wardens level received legal advice”

    Since when do seek a legal opinion on a Monday afternoon, like say June 14 and receive a reply 2 and 1/2 days later, or was the legal opinion obtained prior to Monday’s Committee Meeting of the Whole and the recomendation by Council was just Council going through the motions for appearance only. It’s just going to be a matter of time before the WOOL is pulled off the remaining residents of Centre Wellington’s heads and they figure out exactly which side of the fence our Council is sitting on.

    See letter below from Michael K. Wood date June 14 2010. Centre Wellington CAO

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had lawyers who where so fast. If this isn’t the case then Mayor tell us what it is? (how about giving a shot at being transparent).

    Page 49 of June 14/10 Committee of the Whole Centre Wellington

    REPORT CAO2010-06

    TOWNSHIP OF CENTRE WELLINGTON

    REPORT TO COUNCIL

    Committee of the Whole Michael Wood, CAO

    June 14, 2010

    Renewable Energy Approvals for Wind Energy

    RECOMMENDATION

    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.

    REPORT

    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

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