Clarington council wants wind farm moratorium

Councillor Gord Robinson

The first community information meeting that we held in June was very positively received in our community, and since that time,  word that industrial wind turbines have been proposed for our area has spread quickly.  We have heard from many people who are just learning about wind turbines, and would like to learn more about the issues surrounding these developments and our reasons for concern.  We have also made considerable progress with our Municipal Council and would like to provide the community with an update.
We have planned a Community Update Meeting for Wednesday July 21st at 7pm at the Orono Arena. This meeting is intended for those who were present at the last meeting, as well as those who were not.  We will provide new information and also field as many of your questions and concerns as we can.
Most importantly, we will be having a discussion about the first public meeting that has been scheduled by Energy Farming Inc. for the following week (July 27th 5-8pm at the Orono Town Hall) – what the meeting will entail, as well as what we as a community can do to ensure that our concerns are properly addressed by this wind energy company.
Your presence at these meetings is crucial to ensure that our voice is heard 
We hope to see you on the 21st.  Please forward this notice to your contacts in the area who may also be affected by these developments so that they may consider attending.

by Jennifer O’Meara

BOWMANVILLE — Clarington council is asking the Province to impose a moratorium on the approval of any wind farm applications until further studies can be done on the possible health and economic impacts.

“We’re very pleased that they’re taking this step forward,” said Heather Rutherford, spokeswoman for Clarington Wind Concerns, a group of citizens who live in the study area of two current wind farm proposals.

Councillor Gord Robinson brought the motion for a moratorium to the June 28 council meeting. It was approved and forwarded to the minister of infrastructure and energy, the federal and provincial ministers of environment and health, the environmental commissioner of Ontario, the premier, and Durham Region MPPs and MPs.

“My concern is it’ll be ignored,” said Councillor Adrian Foster.

Councillor Mary Novak asked whether the resolution would stop the Clarington wind farm proponents from holding public meetings. Energy Farming Inc. has scheduled a public meeting at the Orono Town Hall on Tuesday, July 27 from 5 to 8 p.m.

“It doesn’t do anything at this point to the wind farms out there about to hold public meetings,” said Faye Langmaid, Clarington acting director of planning.

The two wind farm proposals, one by Energy Farming called ZEP Wind Farm Ganaraska and the other by Clarington Wind Farm Leader Energy, are both in the early stages.

Ms. Rutherford was representing residents of the area with concerns about health impacts, possible accidents and injuries, lowered property values, and reduced tax revenue for the municipality if the homes in the area are deemed to be worth less.

“We share your concerns. The municipality of Clarington now produces 20 per cent of the baseload power for Ontario. With these projects we could be producing 40 per cent of the energy. I think that’s a huge commitment from any community,” said Mayor Jim Abernethy.

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.

The Ontario Green Energy Act, designed to spark renewable energy projects, has largely taken control of these projects away from municipalities. The Province oversees safety regulations and approves new green energy directly.

“Unfortunately our hands are tied to a certain degree but that does not prevent us from looking at what other municipalities have done,” said Mayor Abernethy.

Ms. Rutherford presented council with examples of other local governments that passed bylaws stating building permits for wind turbines would only be issued after the developer presented certification from Health Canada, and four other provincial ministries, indicating the wind turbines would benefit, or not harm, the area.

Mayor Abernethy said before the public meeting in July, council will review the bylaw that other municipalities have used to try to ensure safe wind farms in their communities.

“We will be consulting with our staff to find out whether the bylaw has any teeth,” said Mayor Abernethy.

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