Reduced turbine permit fees unfair to private business

No other private business, in particular any business that is as highly subsidized by government funds as this one is, has ever been offered this kind of a “break” before.

Manitoulin Expositor

On Tuesday, June 2, I attended the NEMI council meeting to make my views known regarding the plan to offer substantially lowered building permit rates to Northland Power for the construction of their industrial wind turbine project. Whether or not one supports this project, I believe this decision (which council voted in favour of roceeding with) is one that has been made without consideration for the significant risks and costs that are now being assumed by all residents and ratepayers of this township.

If a business wants to obtain a building permit, the cost of the permit is normally based upon a percentage of the physical size of the industrial structure. A few months ago, Northland approached NEMI council with a request for the lion’s share of these fees to be eliminated in the case of their privately owned company. No other private business, in particular any business that is as highly subsidized by government funds as this one is, has ever been offered this kind of a “break” before. This deal was about to be quietly agreed upon when it was pointed out to council by a concerned citizen that, in order to change the fee structures, council is required to have a public meeting and listen to public input concerning this matter—hence my presentation to council on June 2.

At the meeting Northland appealed to the Green Energy Act as reason why council should give them these deeply discounted fees. In fact, as has also been confirmed by Doris Dumais, director of the Ministry of the Environment’s approvals branch, that building permit fees fall under the Municipal Affairs and Housing Act and, as such, council was and still is free to set whatever building permit fees they deem to be “reasonable.”

Council voted in favour of charging Northland a flat fee of $2,000 per turbine, resulting in a total collection of a mere $66,000 for the initial 33 turbines that are proposed in this first phase of construction in their multi-million-dollar for-profit project. This is supposed to cover all of the time, costs, and involvement of the town’s building inspector with this phase of the project’s construction. By comparison, as was noted in Northland’s presentation to
council, the city of Sudbury is charging $3,745 per turbine and the county of Norfolk is charging approximately $4,950 per turbine. Why is it then, that NEMI is only charging $2,000 per turbine?

Of that $2,000 per turbine, only $182 is allotted for as a contingency fee: extra funds in the event that there are unanticipated costs and demands associated with this project. That means about $6,000, in total, should anything go wrong. Any costs beyond that will be subsidized by municipal tax dollars. I do not agree with council’s decision to give differential and preferential treatment to Northland because this project has been referred to as green.

In the discussion that evening, it was identified that if there are any mishaps, accidents, or incidents during or following the construction of any one of these large wind turbines, each one being the height of a 40-storey building, and if, for example, there is a lawsuit launched against Northland, the township (that’s you and I as taxpayers) would also be named and included, and the deductible on the township’s liability insurance policy (for just one legal action, never mind any more) is $5,000. I doubt that Northland would be donating any additional funds from their profits to the town after the fact for legal resources that may be needed along the way. Do these fees seem reasonable to you?

The only way that I can make sense of this decision is to wonder about the behind-the-scenes agendas, discussions, deals, and agreements that will never be debated in the forum of a public meeting.

As citizens who live and work here, we are already being asked to bear huge economic, social, environmental, and health risks and consequences from this large-scale wind project. I do not think that it is wise or appropriate that those of us who pay taxes here are also putting ourselves at risk of exorbitant financial costs should there be any mishaps as the turbines are being attempted to be set up and activated upon this island composed of much soft rock and multiple natural gas and oil pockets.

No structures this high currently exist in NEMI: the plans for construction are in place; however, there are many unknowns and risks associated with this project happening in this unique geographical location. Welcome to the big experiment in which we are all now participants. If there are any adverse consequences to people from these structures, before or following their construction, we are all taking on some of that liability. I’m glad that at
least some parties have interest in documenting the consequences to the environment, which includes the health of the people, as this unfolds (i.e. Dr. Roy Jeffery’s research proposal for studying the health effects of wind turbines).

To learn more about the views of many concerned citizens in this area, visit www.mcsea.ca and www.WindConcernsOntario.org. At the meeting there was also mention of the recent report from Ontario’s medical officer of health regarding the health concerns associated with industrial wind turbines. For further information and analysis of this report visit www.WindVigilance.com.

I would invite members of the public to do their own research and come to their own conclusions so that informed decisions can be made. Speak to your municipal councillors or consider running in the October elections. Accessing wind-industry research alone is like going to tobacco companies for data on the health effects of smoking. I hope this one won’t take 30 years to dismantle. My hunch is it will go a lot faster than that.

Emily Weber, Honora Bay

8 thoughts on “Reduced turbine permit fees unfair to private business

  1. The wind companies threaten municipalities with an OMB hearing. They knew what the building permits cost were when they started this process,if this minor cost keeps them from building then they don’t have the funds to go ahead. They insist they don’t have to pay proper securities and for right of ways under the GEA. They can’t be denied but they can be made to pay. Municipalities need to have better lawyers, they are getting scr**d

  2. Why did the McGuinty Liberal MPPs approve of the new GST (Go Screw Taxpayers) plan?

    Because Liberal Supporters ($$$)are the ones running the wind companies.

  3. It is amazing how easily the government can trample on your civil rights. McGunity manages the province as one would expect in a communistic country. I do not understand the logic of these municipalities who give these companies relief in building permit fees. I suppose councilors are afraid of backlash from McGunity.

    It is also astounding how he can ignore all the groups that have been organized. There are thousands of voters, but they are rural voters and they are only worth half price to a city dweller.

    It seems to me that if I was a member of a visible minority group the chances of having the government capitulate is very high. But those of us who have been on the land for generations, the word from the government would be well we just don’t care about you and we don’t have time to listen your concerns. Now shut up and go back to work so you can pay your taxes.

    The middle class, who contributes the most to the economy is going to be eliminated as there becomes a point when we won’t be in a position to keep up with all the taxes and user fees. Perhaps they want to clear the land and have us all in cities where they can better manage us.

    Have you looked at your recent electricity bill? Why is that there is minimal inflation, but Hydro keeps asking for more and more. Then they turn the tables and say you are in control. What a croak of sh*t.

    As previous writers have said, yes we are getting scr**d and there is nothing that we can do.

    Government is no longer working as we are being victimized repeatedly. It may be nice if the people had the ability to recall their representative in the house for not following the wishes of his or her constituents.

    Keeping fighting and never give up. But don’t get too excited where it will affect your health. Because chances of finding a bed in a hospital is going to be another fight.

    Our ancestors came here for various reason, many from the Briton as they were taxed to immigrate. Do you have any thoughts where I can go?

    From Manvers, in the Kawartha Lakes

  4. Everyone should go to their Municipal Office and ask how much money was sent to Queen’s Park from their property taxes that are paid and then ask them how much the Township has received from the Provincial Government back in “grants” for roads, infrastructure and other township needs.

    The answer will boggle the mind!

  5. Check out the big money pit – it makes the pennies spent on wind look like chump change:

    “The Atomic Energy of Canada Limited continues to lose public confidence as the country’s Senate finance committee deliberates a bill that would give the government free reign to do whatever it likes with the publically owned company.
    Canadian taxpayers have invested approximately $20 billion into AECL since its inception and continue to fund operations by about $100 million per year. Their Chalk River nuclear research centre – which supplied more than one half of the world’s medical isotopes, has now been shut down for more than a year and the corporation hasn’t sold a CANDU reactor in 10 years.
    The provincial government of New Brunswick (Canada) has recently renewed efforts to build their second nuclear reactor and last week met for three days of discussions with Areva. They will not, however, be offering the work to the AECL who need to concentrate their efforts on the refurbishment of the provinces first reactor at Point Lepreau.
    AECL shut down that reactor two years ago for a refurbishment that was supposed to take 18 months. After breaking several deadlines in finishing the work, the ACEL finally announced that it would no longer be estimating when that work would be complete.
    In response, the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island filed a legal action earlier this month to recoup the millions and millions of dollars they are now forced to spend monthly to purchase temporary and more expensive sources of power.
    Whether a re-structuring or a fire-sale, the fate of the ACEL cannot be determined soon enough for those footing the bill for its ongoing problems.”

  6. Perhaps it’s true.

    But the burning question of the day is this:

    How do you feel about the new “Turbines for Toronto” movement? Do you feel that we can follow David Miller’s lead and push for Turbines In Toronto soon? Can you get behind this idea? DO you have proposals for Toronto Island and the Beaches and the Green Corridors of Toronto? Is it a viable idea, or is there something holding you back?

    Let us know what you think!

    Some of us feel that putting the turbines in the cities that need power is the best way to go!

    Do you support David Miller and George Smitherman. We want to know!

  7. “Pennies” spent on wind power. Oh, Mark, give your head a shake.

    I’d like to see the cost structure comparing each PER MW USED.

    If someone actually had the integrity to that, the great boondoggle called wind energy would come crashing down to the ground.

    In other words, you get what you pay for (except in the case of wind energy — you get far, far less).

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