East Garafaxa wades into turbine setback debate

By Richard Vivian  Orangeville.com

Wind proposal:. There is already a proposal put forth for a wind turbine project in East Garafraxa.

Provincial wind turbine setbacks should be the same on land as they are offshore.

That’s the message East Garafraxa council delivered in a recent letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, following comments from Minister of the Environment Brad Duguid, that offshore turbines should be at least five kilometres from the shoreline.

The Green Energy Act (GEA), which came into force last year, requires turbines to be set back a minimum of 550 metres the nearest point of reception.

“That’s the kind of stuff that’s just driving us crazy,” Mayor Allen Taylor said of the differential, noting he prefers the further distance.

“It’s just another attempt to try to let the folks in Queen’s Park know we’re not happy with the way things are,” he added of the letter to McGuinty and council’s ongoing efforts to have municipal planning authority taken away by the GEA reinstated. “We seem to be getting nowhere.”

In the letter, council urges Duguid to consider more than “people who were concerned that if they go to the beach, they could be looking up at a huge wind turbine” — a direct reference to the minister’s comments.

Also renewing the township’s call for a thorough study on the effect of industrial wind turbines on human health, the letter cites complaints of dizziness, sleep disturbance, headaches and more from people living near existing turbines.

Taylor further raised the inequality of setbacks at last week’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Windsor, during a session with various provincial ministers.

“Please tell me why whenever you’re dealing with offshore (turbines) down near metropolitan Toronto, you’re saying five kilometres offshore for these wind towers, but when you come to my backyard up in Dufferin County, it’s 550 metres. Explain to me why that’s fair,” Taylor recalls asking. “Of course they couldn’t do it, because it isn’t.”

Despite its concerns with wind–power projects, East Garafraxa council won’t be heading to court alongside a municipality facing a potential legal battle with a turbine developer.

Officials with the Municipality of Aaron-Eldeslie recently circulated a resolution seeking support to defend a bylaw intended to stall the installation of turbines there.

“Eldeslie is going to get snowed by the developer,” Taylor predicts. “The developer has more money to fight them in court than that municipality has, or any of the people put together with them.

“East Garafraxa doesn’t want to get caught in the financial backdraft of whatever’s going on up there,” he adds. “If this thing does make the Supreme Court, the expenses are going to be horrendous.”

In fact, Aaron-Eldeslie has not received the support of any municipality in Dufferin. All councils have either simply received the request without taking action, or were not circulated with the appeal for assistance.

According to Melancthon Coun. Janice Elliott, her township is still considering whether to get involved. Along with Deputy Mayor Bill Hill, she sits on a new inter-municipal committee, headed by Aaron-Eldeslie, which aims to address wind turbine concerns.

“It gives municipalities a chance to work together,” she said of the committee, which includes representatives from eight municipalities. “The Green Energy Act has taken away the municipalities’ involvement in wind turbine development and I think we’re all feeling we should have some sort of a say in what’s going on in our municipalities.”

Wind power projects are proposed for East Garafraxa and Melancthon, the latter of which is already home to numerous industrial turbines. Under the GEA, planning issues related to those proposals rest entirely with the province.

14 thoughts on “East Garafaxa wades into turbine setback debate

  1. Mayor Allen Taylor is 150% Correct…We need to demand at least the same standard that is being used for offshore wind turbines…We need to get together to fight this issue legally or stall until McGuinty and his fascist Liberals are thrown out next year…

  2. Comparing onshore wind turbines to offshore wind turbines (and their respective negative effects) is like comparing apples to oranges. You can’t just say they are the same and should be treated as such.

    The offshore setback is not about people seeing turbines at the beach. That’s making the same NIMBY assumption that you don’t want them to ruin the view in your backyard.

    How insulting!!!

  3. Independent developers do not have a lot of money in the developing stages, but create the illusion of money with talk. Most are dependent on outside investors and have a limited amount of upfront funds. Paying out legal costs (no returns for money invested) is not normally in the budget. Developers do have an interest in maintaining the illusion and will pool finances to acquire lawyers as it could be considered in the common good. As more legal cases come forward they most likely cannot pool enough resources. Investors presently consider industrial wind to be a high risk investment at best and most likely would wait and see. A delay in reaching specific stages in the process within a timeframe will see investors go elsewhere and will place a project on indefinite hold. Developers are desperate to not be delayed for fear of losing investors. Even oil/gas backed wind developers have a limit to what will be spend on legal issues. It is a lot lower than most would suspect.

  4. TwoLittleWitches:

    Lets not argue about setbacks, just campaign for no more turbines anywhere in Ont., period.

  5. TwoLittleWitches:

    Uh, what wind company did you say you represent? I’m sorry I missed that.

  6. Thank you Mayor Taylor.
    In Westminster London, England there is a recommendation fir a 1.8 mile set-back from the large turbines with a 1.2 mile set-back from the smaller ones and newer projects confined to remote areas. What’s good for them is good for us. Ditto Toronto.
    Recently I learned one of our neighbours wants to have 2 of them thus shattering my peace of mind and more than likely devaluing our property.
    Beach going city people don’t want to look at them. That’s an insult to us.

  7. I’ve been donating to the Hanna Fund and also the Oppose Belwood Wind Farm group funds on a regular basis…

    I’m totally opposed to Wind Turbines being approved by the Ontario Liberal Government through their proxy organizations like OPA, MOE, etc..

    My concern is that by the time these legal issues are dealt with I am going to wake up one day with a wind farm in my backyard. One Industrial Wind Farm is in the approval process in Wellington-East Garafraxa, and another was just proposed …so time is of the essence…

    If we can’t stop them in the near term, then I support at minmum equality of treatment with the offshore NIMBY’s….5 kms

    I can’t accept the fact that we are being treated differently than Ontarians facing off-shore wind turbines…and has some validity legally…

    The whole NIMBY argument is just political dribble….because the race card can’t be used against us…

  8. Martin:

    One would assume that were true considering it’s the same battle on different fronts. But apparently there’s a battle of the “classes” behind these lines.

    Scott:

    That would be “Moms that Don’t Want their Kids Killed by Wind Turbines in Public Provincial Lakes”, “Moms Against Restricted Waterways” and “Moms Against Duck Head Soup”.

    Randy:

    Why are people against offshore wind development NIMBY’s?

    These’s more at issue than looking at turbines at the beach. That’s no better than saying you just don’t want to see them from your backyard.

  9. My first comment was in reference to the article…

    In the letter, council urges Duguid to consider more than “people who were concerned that if they go to the beach, they could be looking up at a huge wind turbine”

    And I’m certainly not reading into anything…

    “Beach going city people don’t want to look at them. That’s an insult to us.”

    “If we can’t stop them in the near term, then I support at minmum equality of treatment with the offshore NIMBY’s….5 kms”

    Sadly, it’s not the first time.

  10. when I first became involved in the wind turbine fight, I was arguing for proper set-back, 1.2Km, 5 km, because these distances would effectively kill any development in my neighbourhood.
    I have evolved to arguing that wind development makes no economic, practical or ecological sense, whatever the set-back distance. The above post from Donald Jones is one of many avaiable that points out that wind power can never be a reliable replacement for conventional sources of electricity. Even the governments’s own OPA reported in 2007 that wind could never be more than a niche supplier of electricity.
    Much as I detest the Suncor Ripley development on Huron shores, I would be appalled to see turbines built in the lake itself. The beaches of Lake Huron are largely free to the public, along with the view. To contemplate polluting this view with turbines, as Carol Mitchell and Dalton McGuinty propose, borders on the obscene and is utterly irresponsible.
    I see no advantage in iternecine arguing between cottage owners and others, anyone that opposes wind development should oppose it everywhere.

  11. Martin, I agree 100%. IWTs are useless and harmful wherever they are put.

  12. “Those beachgoer comments were made by Duguid himself. Council was calling him on his ignorant comments.”

    I don’t see that as calling Duguid out on his ignorant comments. But rather echoing his words back in his face. In so doing, council is re-affirming his comments and making all offshore opposition all about views. Which it is not.

    “As for the other comment, what is wrong with people living near land turbines demanding proper setbacks too?”

    I never said there was anything wrong with demanding proper setbacks now did I? I too live near Harrow and Amherstburg and I’m well aware of the many critical issues for both types of wind development. It makes me sick. I simply don’t think “because” will be a convincing argument. JMHO.

    Regardless, I can guarantee that if someone repeated those same comments, replacing offshore with onshore and beach going city people with rural folk… they’d be mobbed and set a fire. Or flamed in internet lingo.

    Trust me, I’m not the only offshore opponent who’s taken offense.

  13. Maybe we shouldn’t label ourselves ‘offshore’ or ‘onshore’ wind opponents. Why do we need a separate label? The provincial government is separating the ‘shores’ with drastically different setbacks proposed— why such a huge difference? I think this is part of their game of ‘divide and conquer’, so let’s stand together and watch them shrink back to their holes.

  14. As I have said many times. If the setbacks are OK for rural folk there is no reason why we can’t have lots of turbines inside every major city. Let’s start with Toronto — and put some on the beaches and in High Park.

    What is good for the country is good for the city.

    …and if this seems wrong — then complain to Dudley Do-good — not to me.

    Consistency in standards would be good though!

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