Wal-Mart’s turbines leave some Burlington residents seeing red

by Alex Horkay, Toronto Star

A proposal by Wal-Mart to add a wind turbine to its environmental demonstration store in Burlington is drawing criticism from local residents worried about everything from the turbine’s effects on health and wildlife to potential for reduced property values and running afoul of the city’s sign bylaw.

It has even become a municipal election issue.

“Wal-Mart is always contentious,” said Coun. Peter Thoem, who is running in Ward 2.

Residents were taken by surprise when a public notice proposing installation of the wind turbine appeared Sept. 22 in the Burlington Post.

“I’m so upset that a company is planning to decide the fate of my health and well-being–without so much as a public forum or consultation. It is outrageous, shocking and heart-breaking,” said Jackie Jones, who noted she lives and works within a kilometre of the Wal-Mart.

“It seems that Wal-Mart has moved ahead with this proposal without any public awareness and in a somewhat clandestine manner, choosing only to publicize it because the ministry requires it,” said Ward 2 candidate Dave Bedini.

However, the whole reason for the notice was “for us to give a heads-up to the local community in the towns of Burlington and Milton,” where an identical turbine is also proposed, said Karin Campbell, Wal-Mart manager of corporate affairs.

Thoem is not convinced, saying, “Many residents agree that this project is more about high-visibility signage than energy conservation.

“It is a 20-kilowatt wind energy project, enough to power 20 toasters – when the wind is blowing. But it’s not in an area known for reliable winds,” he added.

“If it’s already low-wind, imagine what’s going to happen when you put up two large high-rises on either side of it. It’s going to reduce the wind down to zero,” said John Lawson, property manager for Emshih Developments, which is proposing an apartment building for the property next door. A vacant lot on Wal-Mart’s opposite side is also zoned to allow for high-rise, high-density apartments.

“Putting up a large windmill right next to our property not only will reduce the marketability of a future project but also would decrease the land value because of what the property is allowed to do and won’t be able to do,” he added.

Wal-Mart “says there are no residential (properties) in the area… They’re only seeing what they see out their window,” he added. “They are not looking at the zoning allowances of the neighbouring property.”

Thoem has other issues with the proposal. “The bigger concern is this: Is this the thin end of the wedge? Is this how big-box retailers are going to move forward, taking advantage of the Green Energy Act to get around the municipal approval process, bringing some of the health and safety issues that surround windmills into our urban areas?” he asks.

“If it were anyone but Wal-Mart, attitudes might be different,” said Ward 2 candidate Shannon Gillies. “It’s not up to us to tell Wal-Mart to use solar panels instead, even if that’s what we think.”

The turbines are the first at Wal-Mart stores in Canada and the company hopes to have them running by the end of the year. It also has plans for a solar power test project at a site yet to be named

7 thoughts on “Wal-Mart’s turbines leave some Burlington residents seeing red

  1. Maybe Wal-Mart can sell us all some really really CHEAP Solar panels for our homes so that when we can’t afford to pay for our “Green Energy” then we can use our solar power to watch TV and see how cold it is going to get at night so we can get enough blankets out of our closet so we don’t freeze to death!

    Oh, maybe Wal-Mart can give away free blankets with every solar panel!

    I also know a better place for their “Wind Turbine” where it would fit quite nicely and demonstrate what should happen to our Premier for being such a “sink hole”!

  2. Folks,
    The Industrial Wind Turbines are not Wind Mills !!!
    Call them what they really are: NOISY, VIBRATING, HUMMING, DRONING and INEFFICIENT power plants.

    And to MIMBYist Dalton:
    Resign, call an election now so you can take up your position with CANWEA!!!

  3. In fact why not let them put up a 2.3MW 500 foot tall monolith. I think we should petition to allow them to do that. Then and only then will Toronto wake up and see what we are up against in rural Ontario.

  4. I’m totally in favour of wind turbines in Milton and Burlington.
    I’m totally in favour of urbanites feeling and experiencing what rural dwellers do and face.
    Two thumbs up, way up for urban Wal-Mart stores. Spread the good news–there’s money to be made. Jackie Jones doesn’t want to live within a kilometer then why should we?

  5. There are lots of parks in Toronto that could easily hold several wind turbines. Center Island could hold a few as could the Leslie Street spit. High Park Wind Farm sounds good to me!
    Toronto could also erect the largest wind turbine the world has ever seen…with 1000′ blades spinning gracefully for the whole city to enjoy…right on top of the CN tower!

  6. And to those property owners next to a wind turbine.. Good luck getting building permits after the wind turbine has been installed.

    Jackie Jones- dont give up the fight.. We are battling a 15 turbine wind farm planned to surround our schools and little community in Pontypool. It’s a joke. Spread the word… this is ALL McGuinty and his liberal’s doing… This Green Energy Act they have dictated across our province will cost us tax payers billions… We are headed for massive destruction in this province with this act. People will not be able to afford their hydro. The only ones who will benefit are the foreign companies and the Liberals.. And that is what is important in McGuinty’s eyes.

  7. It’s not the “Green Energy Act” it is the “GREEDY Energy Act”. Follow the money – these large corporations get subsidies and grants, they get great guaranteed rates for a set time. They can then pocket the money and run. Then that rusty, creaky old IWT will be bailed out by the provincial government who will raise our taxes to pay for the maintenance and/or removal of these behemoths. Wouldn’t that money be better spent to help individuals and municipalities find ways of generating power locally, keeping the savings and benefits within each community?

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