by Jennifer O’Meara Durham Region.com
BOWMANVILLE — Clarington residents want the municipality to take a stand against two wind farm proposals being considered in the area.
Heather Rutherford, the spokeswoman for ‘Clarington Wind Concerns’ a group of citizens who live in the study area of the wind farms, attended council’s June 21 meeting asking the municipality to take action to delay the wind turbines.
“I’m here on behalf of several hundred concerned residents. We seek your support in opposing these wind turbines,” said Ms. Rutherford.
She raised concerns about health impacts, possible accidents and injuries, lowered property values, and lowered tax revenue for the municipality if the homes in the area are deemed to be worth less.
The two wind farms, one by Energy Farming called ZEP Wind Farm Ganaraska and the other by Clarington Wind Farm Leader Energy, are both in the early stages.
In an earlier interview, Ariel Bautista, Clarington Wind Farm Leader Energy project coordinator, said the company takes residents’ concerns very seriously and wants to address them in a transparent manner.
ZEP Wind Farm Ganaraska is studying the area from Mosport Park to Kendalwood Park to see if it’s suitable for a wind farm. Clarington Wind Farm Leader Energy is considering the land from Kirby to Port Granby.
“A major part of the study is on the Oak Ridges Moraine, where I live. If I wanted to a build a 10-by-10 shed it would cost thousands in permits and probably wouldn’t go ahead. But my neighbour can put up a wind turbine,” said Ms. Rutherford.
In an effort to create more renewable energy in Ontario, the Province passed the Green Energy Act last spring, which took control for these projects out of the hands of municipalities. The Province now approves new alternative energy and has control over safety regulations.
“We should be passing a resolution that deals with the fact there is no environmental assessment on wind turbines or solar panels. Which is a bit strange given that – and this is a bit of a jab – we’ve been doing environmental assessments for 30 years on the (Hwy.) 407,” said Mayor Jim Abernethy.
Local government does have some involvement in the process. The proponent has to consult with Clarington on municipal service connections, traffic management plans during construction and operation, rehabilitation of temporary disturbance areas and any municipal infrastructure damaged during construction, emergency management procedures and safety protocols and proposed site landscaping.
Ms. Rutherford told council other municipalities had passed a bylaw stating the development permits would not be issued until the company could provide notification from Health Canada and other ministries stating the project will not harm residents. She asked council to consider passing a similar bylaw to delay the project until the studies on potential impacts could be completed.
“It costs several million dollars to put these wind turbines up and once they’re up, they won’t come down,” said Ms. Rutherford.
Faye Langmaid, Clarington acting director of planning, explained that when the Province gave permission for the two companies to study putting in wind turbines, there is a time limit for that contract. If the companies don’t move forward in that deadline their rights to build the project will be rescinded and the Province will give the area to another company to study.
Council decided to table the issue until the next meeting on Monday, June 28, while Ms. Rutherford’s request is considered.