Industry ready to fight Arran-Elderslie bylaw
Posted By Mary Golem Owen Sound Sun Times
Charles Edey, president of Leader Resources Services Corp., told council at a meeting in Chesley Monday that not only is Leader proceeding with the 46-turbine project near Arran Lake, it has also pooled $250,000 among seven other developers and manufacturers to fight an Arran-Elderslie bylaw — which uses a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a bid to control turbine development — and the municipality “all the way to the Supreme Court.”
“We will build resources, including capital and marketing materials, to challenge this bylaw and any similar bylaws passed in other municipalities including funds to support any legal challenge as a result of delayed issuance of building permits,” Edey said.
“That is not to be looked at as a threat, because it is not,” Edey told council and about a dozen wind energy opponents at the meeting. “We don’t believe going to court is a good use of resources, but if that’s what it takes to move the project forward, well . . .”
Edey said he believes council’s bylaw “is designed to be insurmountable.”
The bylaw, passed in May, calls for “the protection of life, liberty and security of person” under Section 7 of the Charter, claiming wind turbines cause serious health effects. The bylaw, circulated to all Ontario municipalities, has received the support of more than 40 municipalities to date.
The bylaw calls for developers to provide certificates issued by Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources confirming that wind generation facilities being applied for do not cause ill health effects.
Last month council imposed a building permit fee of $150 per $1,000 worth of construction for any turbine project.
Tara ward Coun. Paul Eagleson agreed with Edey that spending money to take the issue to court isn’t a wise use of resources and asked Edey why his company would not spend the money on a health study instead “to prove to us that what you’re saying is really true.”
“We’re trying to our utmost to mitigate issues,” Edey responded. “The reality is that when you take energy from Mother Nature there are going to be costs. I realize there are individuals who believe the turbines should be somewhere else, but there are also others who believe that this is the right spot,” Edey said, assuring council a contingency fund would be put in place “to deal with issues as they arise.”
Edey did his best to sell his proposed project, which he told council has been ongoing since 2006 “when a group of landowners came to Leader Resources to suggest a project area”. He said additional campaigns for participating landowners were undertaken in 2008 and 2010. Edey said more than 80 lease options, consisting of over 7,000 acres of land, have already been signed.
Public consultation meetings have been held in both Saugeen Shores and Arran-Elderslie, he said, and “work is progressing on the archeological review, pre-engineering work and responding to public concerns,” adding Leader Resources is working toward a commission date in the fall of 2011.
Outspoken opponent of wind turbines, Elderslie ward Coun. Mark Davis bluntly told Edey that his company “is not welcome in Arran-Elderslie. All those things are are floppy monuments to government stupidity,” Davis told Edey.
“What sets you and us apart on these things is that you are making a lot of money. We’re trying, as elected officials, to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. I just wish you’d go somewhere else with them.”
Edey responded by saying the chosen location in Arran-Elderslie “is the right spot” for a project, saying there will be both short and long-term benefits for the municipality as a result.
“We recognize the project will have some impact, and we are trying to deal with problems as they arise,” Edey said. “We recognize the turbines will not be invisible . . . and we are trying to more transparent as we move along in the process,” he said, “providing as much information as we can.”
“If you truly care, you’d shut down the project until you know it is safe,” Davis responded.
Port Elgin area lawyer John Mann told Edey it was “willful blindness” on Leader’s part “to not check out all of the reported cases of adverse health effects” caused by turbines.
Long-time wind energy opponent Keith Stelling of RR 1 Southampton criticized Edey for his “arrogant approach to council” and challenged Edey on some of the information he presented saying it was different from what had been presented to council on earlier occasions.
“This whole area is totally unsuitable for a project of this nature,” Stelling said, citing concerns about the loss of a tourism-dependent landscape, dangers to people’s health, concern for birds and other wildlife and “the total lack of consultation” with affected landowners.
Edey assured Stelling “before there’s a shovel in the ground, you will know in explicit detail the project description.”
Later in the meeting, Davis asked chief administrative officer A.P. Crawford to investigate the municipality’s height restrictions bylaw as yet another measure to oppose turbine development.
Davis said the municipality does not have the equipment or trained personnel to deal with emergency situations should they arise on structures the height and size of a turbine.
“If there was ever a fire or any other type of emergency with these things, we cannot offer any type of protective service,” Davis said, adding neighbouring municipalities, such as Kincardine, have rescue trained firemen and equipment to deal with such emergencies.