by Michael Gennings, Staff Simcoe.com
STAYNER – ClearviewWAIT, a local group that’s against placing industrial wind turbines in the community, is in the process of erecting signs across the township in an effort to garner support for its cause.
“Our mission is to put this issue squarely on the forefront for the municipal election,” local resident and ClearviewWAIT member Colin Huismans told The Stayner Sun. “The objective is to continue building awareness. My feeling is as we get these signs onto the county roads and highways – they’ll continue to drive awareness and drive people to us. What we want to do is direct people to information sites where they can learn about wind.”
The black and white signs contain images of wind turbines and the message: Foul Wind. There is also the group’s e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other versions contain like messages: Turbines make bad neighbours, Wind blows ill and Say “No” to wind turbines.
So far the signs can be found along well-traveled roads, such as Airport Road, County Road 9, County Road 124 and Nottawasaga Concession 6.
Huismans said that wind and solar energy projects don’t make sense because without government subsidies they aren’t economically viable.
“If those things weren’t in place people wouldn’t build these things,” he said. “I think it’s also important that we reaffirm what ClearviewWAIT is – an advocacy group about irresponsible wind development. We’re not anti-green. We all need to be more energy conscious…buy fuel efficient vehicles, more fluorescent lights, turn our AC off, lower the thermostat – there are quite a few things we can do.”
Huismans added that wind turbine projects can negatively impact the real estate value of neighbouring properties and said in some communities people living near these structures have reported health problems, such as dizziness and a ringing in their ears.
He said there really isn’t enough known in terms of how wind turbines impact the health of people.
Municipal election candidates need to talk about wind turbines and whether they think there is a place for them in Clearview, Huismans said.
“My every hope and dream is that they would fall in line or stand with the constituents of their township and be as vocal as some of the neighbouring townships on this issue,” Huismans said. “Look, part of our job is educational too – they [candidates] need to be shown the path to take…that as a municipality we need to be almost obstructionist in nature when dealing with these wind companies.”
The province, in passing the Green Energy Act, stripped municipalities of planning approval power for alternative energy projects.
But Huismans said municipalities can stall projects by refusing to issue such things as building permits and road access permits.
One small victory for ClearviewWAIT and its supporters will happen if Tim Hudak and his Progressive Conservatives win the provincial election in 2011.
At the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Windsor last Tuesday, Hudak said if his party is elected “we will restore [to municipalities] the decision-making powers the Green Energy Act stripped away. Instead, we will empower municipalities to direct modern, affordable energy investments in their communities.”
Huismans reacted favourably to the remarks.
“I thought it’s interesting to hear he’s putting it on the line like that – he’d return planning authority to municipalities. I know it’s a sweeping statement and broad but it’s simple to understand. That means communities that want renewables – they can figure out the best spot for them,” he said.
ClearviewWAIT has been active since about April 2008. Local residents who share concerns about wind turbine projects coming to Clearview founded the group.
The project that’s received the most attention so far is one just southwest of Stayner. Wpd Canada wants to build eight turbines on private property. The company is currently going through the provincial government’s approval process.
Wpd has said it hopes to have provincial approval to go ahead with the project by December 2011. The company requires what’s called a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the province. The company wants to start construction in May 2012 and begin operation of the turbines in February 2013.
Huismans said since ClearviewWAIT got off the ground it has received donations from about 400 supporters – money the organization will use in ways that advance its message.
“We’ve had people donate anything from $2,500 to $50,” he noted. “They’re representative of farming families who’ve been here for generations, there are people who don’t really have two nickels to rub together who have sent $50, there are people with significant wealth who’ve contributed large amounts. We’ve received probably around $30,000 since we started fundraising last November.”
The organization’s next major initiative, he said, will be at the Great Northern Exhibition – the fall fair hosted each year in Clearview Township by the Collingwood Agricultural Society.
“We’ll have a booth at the fair, where we will be talking all things wind,” Huismans explained.
He said once the municipal election is out of the way the organization will start to focus some of its energy on the provincial election, which is set for the fall 2011.
“Jim Wilson, our MPP, is squarely behind us on our efforts,” Huismans said. “This will become one of the pivotal issues of our provincial election but we need to get the municipal election over first.”
Huismans said ClearviewWAIT and other like organizations have a responsibility to educate “the people of Toronto on why these [wind and solar projects] aren’t good projects. It’s a unique conundrum when urban centers calling for power are impacting people living elsewhere in the province.”