By Joanne Courneya-Fitzroy
Kingston Whig Standard
After much deliberation and public input, Prince Edward County council has voted against supporting in principle another municipality’s bylaw regulating wind turbines.
The municipality of Arran-Elderslie is seeking the support of several municipalities across Ontario for its bylaw asking the provincial government for more stringent restrictions on wind farms.
Council heard from several delegations both for and against wind turbines, including environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie.
Gillespie said Arran-Elderslie’s council “recognized that due to changes in Ontario’s Green Energy Act, the municipality’s role would change.”
The motion to support the Arrans-Elderslie wind turbine/ Green Energy Act bylaw in principle was defeated 10-2, with Finnegan and Mertens being the only two in favour.
Twenty other Ontario municipalities — out of more than 400 that have been asked to endorse the bylaw — have done so.
County resident Debra Hudson told council that this bylaw “is motivated to stop farmland from being used for clean energy production.”
She noted that damage to human health from fossil fuel production is much more prevalent than wind turbine health issues.
Most members of council weighed in on the Arran-Elderslie bylaw before putting it to a recorded vote:
Peter Mertens: “It is a progressive step for the municipality to take back the responsibility to look after the welfare of our citizens. The bylaw promotes responsible use of wind energy facilities.”
Brian Marisett: “We need the desire to take steps forward for cleaner air. It is frustrating that this resource remains underdeveloped. At some point we have to accept the reality that there will be wind energy in Prince Edward County.”
John Thompson: “We should become positive supporters of renewable energy sources.”
Bev Campbell: “We should have some say where wind turbines will go. A vote of support would allow people to assume we’re going down that same road. This bylaw constitutes a total barrier against wind turbines in this county.”
Monica Alyea: “I have a lot of difficulty with parts of this bylaw. There is a real tug of emotions with the people in Prince Edward County. I want to see wind energy done right with respect to health issues.”
Lori Slik: “I don’t support the Green Energy Act at all. I want this issue to go away. We need to move forward.”
Sandy Latchford: “I don’t want to minimize the public’s concerns with wind energy but the bylaw the way it is written is asking the (Ontario) government to do something (it) cannot do. It’s not viable.”
Kevin Gale: “I support renewable energy. I’m not a fan of provincial bullying. This bylaw slants to an anti-movement. The suggestions in this bylaw are ludicrous and impossible.”
Peggy Burris: “I support passing support in principle of this bylaw. We will get the government’s attention, letting them know many of us are unhappy with the Green Energy Act. Maybe this isn’t a perfect bylaw, but they are on the right track. I am against windmills close to where people live. There is a right place for them, but … windmills are not the only way to save the earth.”
Barry Turpin: “We have looked at this before and have taken our own spin on it. I can’t support that bylaw in this form.”
Dianne O’Brien: “I came here tonight with an open mind on the subject. I support the efforts, but not the bylaw. It would be misleading to support something we are not going to follow through on.”
Mayor Leo Finnegan: “I am in favour of wind energy. This has been a hot subject for the seven years I’ve been on council. We have told the province we want some say in where turbines will be sited. I don’t want Prince Edward County to look like Wolfe Island. I’m in favour of supporting the bylaw in principle.”