by Mark Hoult Stirling Community Press
Asphodel-Norwood — Council here is tacking against the wind by declaring a moratorium on the local construction of wind turbines.
“We just wanted to make a statement that we are not happy about what’s going on,” Reeve Doug Pearcy said following council’s decision last week.
Council’s resolution is in response to the growing number of residents opposing the proposed Collie Hill Wind Farm. Energy Farming Ontario wants to build three 1.8-megawatt wind turbines on privately-owned land south of Norwood near Hastings.
Council members have been buffeted by questions from residents concerned about the effect of wind turbines on human health and their impact on the rural environment.
“There’s a lot of opposition developing, and a whole lot of questions out there around the health issues,” said Pearcy, adding some question the idea that wind power is the answer to the problems caused by the use of coal and other non-renewable resources.
“We’re really looking for some answers to these questions. But right now the ministry of the environment won’t even talk to us about it.”
Pearcy acknowledged that council doesn’t know what kind of impact the moratorium will have on the Collie Hill project.
“We know we can’t stop it, but other communities have done the same thing. And the whole idea is to put some pressure on the government to get some answers, because they are not communicating.”
Township resident Graham Saunders joined John Crowley and Isaac Monster this week in asking council to declare a moratorium on wind turbines. “I’m very happy with the council’s decision,” he said. “I see it as a step to getting the province to fulfill their responsibility to do a complete epidemiological study before approving any further wind developments in Ontario. To date, the McGuinty government has turned a deaf ear to residents directly impacted by these developments. If other municipalities have the courage of the Asphodel-Norwood Town Council and pass similar resolutions, perhaps the people will be heard.”
Saunders, who lives near the property chosen as the site for the wind farm, said he became aware of Energy Farming Ontario’s proposed project when a flyer was deposited in his mail box last July. He decided to learn more about wind power and started doing research on the Internet.
“The more I read on the Internet, the more alarmed I became,” he said, stressing that while he understands the need for the development of green energy, he came to the conclusion that “the economics of wind energy currently make no sense.”
But of more concern are the numerous health issues that have been raised and are being ignored by Energy Farming Ontario and the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Saunders said, adding that both deny there are negative effects from low frequency, or ultrasound, on humans, animals or the environment.
“Their claim that no studies have shown any linkage is disingenuous because there have been no epidemiological studies undertaken. The lack of evidence is not evidence in itself.”
Saunders said he and other concerned residents want the province to “slow down” and do the necessary health studies. “Do the proper work. If they are safe, fine. If they are not, banish them.”
Township resident Mara James said residents concerned about the proliferation of wind farms “applaud the Asphodel-Norwood Township Council for doing the right thing and protecting the interests of our citizens and community.”
She said the moratorium sends a clear message to the wind industry and the province that we in Asphodel-Norwood put the interests of our citizens before wind industry profits and the economic benefit accruing to a few individuals.”
James said she once thought wind energy was “a great idea.” Then, like Saunders, she started doing some research. “I soon realized that industrial wind turbines are a bad idea and are really not a clean green solution.”
Council to set building fee for wind turbines by Mark Hoult
Asphodel-Norwood — What is the appropriate building fee for the construction of wind turbine towers within the municipality?
That’s a question council here wants answered after declaring a moratorium on the construction of industrial wind farms in Asphodel-Norwood Township.
Last week council asked municipal staff to prepare a report on building fees relating to the construction of towers. The report will be presented to council Oct. 19 and will contain information on construction, demolition, change of use permits and building inspections, along with recommendations on tower-related fees.
Council asked for the report after Asphodel-Norwood resident Debbie Lynch said the only planning action left to municipalities under the province’s Green Energy Act is the right to set fees under the 1992 Building Code Act, as long as they don’t exceed anticipated reasonable costs to the municipality.
Lynch told council the construction of wind farms in the township could result in a considerable decrease in the assessed value of properties located near the turbines. Lynch asked council to think about the number of homes, farms and seasonal trailer parks in the vicinity of the proposed Collie Hill Wind Farm.
“There are a lot of properties that could be affected by the proposed wind farm. Is this township prepared for such an eventuality, and can we afford such a substantial possible drop in assessment?” she asked in her presentation.
Lynch said council should demand proof of accurate construction costs from the developers of wind farms and take into account both construction value and vertical height when determining fees.
“It would not have a negative impact on very many other commercial or industrial projects, and it might help the township to recoup some potential lost assessment as a result of the proposed wind farm.”
Lynch told The Community Press the Green Energy Act “took away the right to say no, we don’t want these industrial wind turbine farms.” That leaves increased permit fees as the only tools for municipalities to use to ensure they don’t lose money as a result of the construction of wind farms.
“If they are going to come, then we have to work with what we have,” she said.