How to produce a ghost town: Zero public option + One ill-conceived mandate = Disaster

Abandoned home surrounded by turbines in Clear Creek


by Heather Redick, Zurich
London Free Press

Wikipedia defines a ghost town as a completely abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as a flood, government action, uncontrolled lawlessness, or war.

Nestled in the middle of one of the best agricultural areas and one of Ontario’s most loved tourist regions, Zurich could have been looking to reap a portion of the regional economic benefits thought to be possible in the future. Now, it appears that Zurich has the potential to be a place future generations will only read about in the history books. And, for many currently making up the population, ‘going down with the ship’ may be the only option.

A few years ago the Bank of Montreal pulled out of our small town. A committee worked to the best of their ability trying to discourage the closer or to find a replacement institution at no avail. The Municipal government gave no assistance and in fact had moved their banking outside of the Municipality instead of supporting the local institution.

This, of course, had very serious effects on business, with the surrounding population now having to go elsewhere to do their banking. The added expense and inconvenience of going out of town further contributed to the severe and immediately damaging impact.

Still, villagers continued to invest in their properties and to enjoy their chosen rural lifestyle, confident that they could survive this blow.

Fast forward to 2010.

Over the past couple of years, endless and costly hours have been spent by many to try and stop the development of a natural gas storage project proposed for under and to the north of the village. A London company came to town offering lease agreements to unaware residents for a one time taxable payment of $500. A few signed, but many more did not. Possible safety issues, property depreciation, stigma associated with industrialization, warranted concerns about the effect on the deep well water system; inconvenience; noise, pollution; increased truck traffic, and more, caused anger and fear among many residents.

At first the Municipal government avoided community pleas for help, but have recently come to agree with concerned citizens. A bylaw was passed with the hope of discouraging the development and in turn, the application to the Ontario Energy Board for licensing. Hundreds of thousands of dollars would be needed to fight for property/community rights at the same time harboring little faith in being able to deter or impact the Ontario Energy Board from approval. Why should village residents be faced with this unsolicited, unwanted, uninvited proposal and the resulting expense of time and money, not to mention, the wear and tear on mind and body?! Just the notion that such a venture could be real may be one factor effecting the now, stagnant real estate market and decreased property values.

In June of this year, it was announced that the Zurich Public School would close. This school has enjoyed near/to full enrollments for many years, produced top students and sports teams in a safe and well supervised environment, and has provided a ‘walk to school’ option for many. It has been said by many that losing the school rips the heart out of a town. This is true. Again, we are looking at a further decrease in property values and significant inconvenience to many parents who will have children bused many kms in different directions. The students will not be able to enjoy after-school activities and will spend many hours a week simply in transit. This travel time will increase dramatically with our snow-belt winter road conditions at which time safety will become an even greater issue. Parents will be subjected to added worry as the wind picks up speed off of Lake Huron!

Instead of providing school boards with the funding required to keep good schools in operation, the Provincial government has seen fit to spend millions to educate a hand-full of foreign students, those from parents who do not pay Ontario taxes and may never become part of the Canadian population. How can out-of-country students be more important than our own?! And, why is “my” money being used for this?! And, what consideration was given to the devastating effect that school closures have for local residents, businesses and any future growth and development. None, because we are only one small town, insignificant to the Provincial government’s urban plan.

And now, to add insult to injury, the Ontario Government has decided that hundreds of extremely costly and inefficient industrial wind turbines should be installed within 550m of our back, side and front doors — an insufficient set-back from residences for these monster 492 foot towers. This is far less distance than that set by other world governments with many years of experience with wind power. The World Health Organization has declared an absolute minimum of 2 km be respected. The vibra sound, sonic vibration, ice build-up and subsequent capacity of the blades to fling this ice for a great distance, flicker-effect and for some, the unsightly appearance, make locating these giants so close to homes, great cause for concern. Besides the health issues, safety issues, and discomfort, properties WILL depreciate. Even if no issues were to exist, the stigma or perceived problems are enough to discourage buyers and cause plummeting property values.

The Ontario Government has taken away the right of the people and of the municipal government elected to do what they know and feel is best for their area of the Province.

The Provincial Government’s discrimination against rural Ontario is shocking. The Municipal set-back bylaws passed by council “representing the people” have been rejected and over-ruled. No consideration for the opinions of those most directly involved are being recognized or considered. This kind of measure is not only scarey but should be an alert to all that the system is broken. Democracy is broken. Section 2 of the Green Energy Act has been violated. (“This Act shall be administered in a manner that promotes community consultation.”). Our government has failed to comply with their own enactment. The sense of ‘discrimination’ is justified when you understand that the Provincial Government would not consider over-ruling bylaws created to protect home owners and residents in the city of Toronto.

Our rural area does care about ‘green’ initiatives, but in this case, most of the opposition to the wind industrial site projects are concerns about lack of research into this subject. If the government were to take a breath, allow time for adequate research, perhaps there would be no fear, or maybe, there would be cause for more. The very serious allegations of negative and severe health effects proclaimed by now MANY of those subjected to wind turbine installations has been met with name calling instead of compassion and research by supposed adult members of the Provincial legislature.

The installation of hundreds of industrial wind turbines is probably the most serious of issues to ever be realized by our region, our village –one that is going to change this entire area, visually, physically, environmentally, economically, sociologically, ecologically, for ever and ever.

As these installation projects move forward, homes will be unsaleable. The effects on surrounding land usage and change from agricultural to industrial along with financial incentive provided to farmers for “wind” instead of “crops” will change the entire rural landscape.

Zurich will have little chance of gleaming any dollars from the now strong, near-by tourism industry once the offshore installations clutter the sought-after lake sunsets. The increased school bus routes will weave their way through the maze of propellers capable of firing dangerous ice formations for extended distances. But that’s OK…..cause these are Canadian kids not worthy of Government funding or consideration.

I believe the narrow minded human intervention by the Provincial government and the lack of creativity and forward planning of both the Provincial and local Municipal government will have devastating effects on the future of the village of Zurich.

Without Provincial compensation for relocation, hundreds stand to loose almost all that they have worked for. So, how do you produce a ghost town. Just ask Mr. McGuinty. “Zero Public Option + One Ill-conceived Mandate = Disaster”

Boo!

29 thoughts on “How to produce a ghost town: Zero public option + One ill-conceived mandate = Disaster

  1. BANG ON!! Finally. Thank you Heather. Zurich, we all feel your pain and encourage every resident to start fighting hard. This is not acceptable. You have support across this province.

  2. Every time you blink there is another letter another sad story of what the government is do to rural Ontario. I feel like the story of the Ten Commandments no one is hearing our cry’s, and if they are they the McGuinty Liberals are just ignoring us and selling rural Ontario to the highest bidder.

  3. Because we live in a dictatorship. Read the cloak of green, it is a way to take money from rich countries and give them to poor countries it is a scam.

  4. Premier McGuinty and the Fiberals have sold out rural Ontario in the name of so-called “green” energy.

    As many of us know, industrial wind turbines are not green.

    Steve Aplin recently stated, the minute an industrial wind turbine is added to the mix for the provincial grid, the Ontario system operator is forced to turn to another power generator to meet the provincial demand. When this happens, it is almost a certainty that the other power generator will run on natural gas.”

    Aplin went on to state, “It is shocking to some that a wind/natural gas mix would create over 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other bona fide air pollutants into the air every year.”

    The last thing Ontario needs is any additional industrial wind turbines.

    What Ontario does need however, is a moratorium on wind development until an independent, epidemiological study is completed into the health and environmental impacts of industrial wind turbines.

    A “literature review” simply will not do. Ontarians deserve better than that from our Chief Medical Officer of Health.

    New information has come to light since Dr. King’s report was released in May, 2010. Take another look at the most current information. Talk with people who live near industrial wind turbines. Listen to their issues and concerns. Listen to the World Health Organization.

    Step up to the plate Premier McGuinty.

    Do what is right for all Ontarians regardless of our postal code.

  5. This is what happens when people lose local control including control of their local schools.

    At least Heather Redick is now aware of the fact that turbine blades can throw ice quite a distance thus endangering school buses on rural roads.

    The revenues turbines are supossed to bring to rural communities will be more than off-set by the financial loses these communities will experience.

  6. The province capped the assessment at $40,000/turbine. That means they bring in less tax money than a house would. This like the Highland Clearances of ~ 200 years ago – substitute turbines for sheep as the commodity. Same reasoning – it isn’t economic to keep people here.
    You won’t receive a good-bye or go to hell out of McGuinty and company.
    Shame on them!

  7. I wish health issues and decreased property values were the ONLY problems with industrial wind energy…

    They are not even the worst!

    There are only three types of people that would embrace this technology:

    Idiots, the greedy and the CRIMINAL!

    Judgement day is less then ten months away…

    B.B.W.

  8. Harvey or Tony,

    What is the estimated tax revenue payed per 2mw turbine based on $80,000 assessment per turbine? Probaby differs according to location but nice to know some ballpark figures anyway.

    $80,000 dosen’t buy much house in today’s market.

  9. So if we could get an estimated/ballpark figure on how much local tax revenue will be received versus how much these turbines will cost to install then we can do as well as the folks in Ohio have done in gathering their figures on what these blasted turbines are going to cost them.

  10. McGuinty is just carrying out his “orders” from the “cabal of greed” and “power brokers” that he has sold Ontario out to. These faceless individuals own this Province “lock stock and barrel” and have successfully infiltrated all levels of Government including your very own Municipal Councils without barely a whisper of defiance!

    Local Agenda 21 is probably a staple booklet within arms reach in every CAO’s Office which guides these administrators through the various steps of selling off the townships to a very elite group of power brokers all in the name of “Sustainable, Renewable and Green Development”.

    Words like this are used to disguise the true meanings of what the results look like once a township has allowed it’s true heritage to be traded for promises of “financial stability”.

    The words “Ghost Town” fits this end result quite nicely.

    This description used to be looked upon as a “conspiracy” but we have all come to realize that it is well beyond being a “conspiracy” but is now reality and truly evil!

    The “Cloak of Green” definitely explains the REAL HORROR STORY that is unfolding across Rural Ontario. Read it here for Free: http://books.google.ca/books?id=ui2OTJqsqI8C&printsec=frontcover&vq=cloak+of+green#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Nothing short of jail terms for these “players” will be good enough!

  11. At least we have not progressed as far as the U.K.has and it appears that the “wheels” are starting to fall off there now.

    There is no way that people can bear that level of taxation as they now have in the U.K. inorder to move the “green” agenda foreward.

    However,the greenies will attempt to get as much propaganda value as can be had from the UN Cancun climate meetings.

  12. Barabra:

    The UN (IPCC) is looking for 1.2% of GDP from all developed countries. That would be about $1800 – $2000 per family here in Canada. I worked it out…

    They have established a $100B fund — to start in 2020 — hopefully people come to their senses before next year. Just don’t count on it… The world bank is the manage the $100B — a message for the UN?

    But — do you trust the UN process?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/08/cop16-attendees-fall-for-the-old-dihydrogen-monoxide-petition-as-well-as-signing-up-to-cripple-the-u-s-economy/

    They may not be the smartest bunch.

    “Readers may remember this famous Penn and Teller video from 2006 where they get well meaning (but non thinking) people to sign up to ban “dihydrogen monoxide” (DHMO), which is an “evil” chemical found in our lakes, rivers, oceans, and even our food!

    Yeah, they signed up to ban water. ”
    **********************************

    Hmmmm!!!!

  13. “If all German wind power projects are realized as planned, the country will incur economic losses well over 100 billion Euros by 2030,” says Thomas Heinzow, an environmental economist at the University of Hamburg. “The only word that describes this ‘world improvement’ strategy is suicidal.”

    http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/dying-breeze

  14. Here a house worth $155,000 is taxed about $2,000 a year, so a 2MW turbine that is worth over 2 million bucks pays less than $1000 taxes. I’m sure most rural areas are about the same mill rate, give or take a few dollars. Another issue is that the gov’t froze the assessment, they pay peanuts and we get the shaft

  15. Thanks BD,

    This is a good start if you have the planned 7000 wind turbines x $1,000 per year. If my math is right this is $7,000,000 tax revenue per year with no increases for all of Ontario.

    Then over 20 years this is $7,000,000 x 20 = $140 million on an original cost of ? Now I forgot what this figure is and I hope my math is correct.

    Anyone else want to have a go at this?

  16. In any given area that has turbines there will be a loss of property values and thus a reduction in taxes collected for the area.

    So just for math purposes if in an area that has 20 turbines and pays $20,000 taxes but you lose the value of 10 other properties in the same area that were paying $2,000 property taxes per year the result is $20,000 loss. So no net gain.

    Great deal for local governments isn’t it.

  17. Thanks David & Lynnn,

    And isn’t this $ $100B just the begining with more to be paid later on? There is no way that families can pay this amount of money. Will reduce the standard of living for all.

  18. Instead of being a herd of sheep we should not pay these environment green taxes as the way I see it it has no use and better spent on our own health and welfare. They already destroyed our way of life as we know it.

  19. How bout an area that is looking at affecting close to 200 homes at a modest average of $5000.00 per year, with some of the closest homes climbing close to the 10K mark?

    hmmm….IPC, could that be why Hamilton was excluded from “meaningful public consultation”????

  20. Just remember, the question is not how many kWHs wind replace from fossil fuels on the grid – the question is how much fossil fuel will be saved. These two questions have very different answers. The answer to the first is irrelevant. The answer to the second is necessary to determine the cost benefit of wind.

  21. Don’t forget the fact that most of the industrial wind turbines are being constructed on lands that are deemed “agricultural”.

    In our municipality, “agricultural” lands have a much lower mill rate than “residential” lands.

    $40,000 per megawatt will not go very far at all based on an “agricultural” mill rate.

  22. True Debbie and as BD pointed out that a 2MW turbine is taxed ~ $1,000 so that would be $500 per MW in tax revenues for the government per year.

    She also pointed out that a property assessed for $155,000 in her area pays $2,000 in property taxes.

    So assessed value and millage figures have to be used for each area along with the expected property value loses to find the outcome for each area.

    Province wide 7000 2MW turbines will yield $140 million over 20 years in property taxes which isn’t much considering they cost ~$ 2 million each. Quite a bargain for the wind turbine owners.

    perTURBED added the amount of taxes on property in the Hamilton area of ~ $5,000-$10,000 per property per year. Potential of much greater property tax loses in this area.

  23. Tony,

    $40,000/ MW so need to know what the tax yield per turbine is for each municipality and do the calculations based on local information.

    Did mine based on BD’s information of ~$1,000 tax yield per turbine applied to the whole province. This can be done for each municipality with turbines and the results for the province totaled. At least a ballpark figure can be obtained.

  24. There might be a wrinkle to the real estate tax issue. From a letter in the Goderich Signal-Star, the lessees in the Port Alma project mentioned that their farm land previously taxed as such was now being taxed at higher industrial rates. You’d think the developer would have to pay the extra, but maybe they only pay the additional tax on the $40,000 extra evaluation per mw, and leave the ‘poor’ farmer to pay the rest.

    http://windfarmrealities.org/?p=713

  25. Tom:

    Perhaps the best implementation of wind energy anywhere in the world is the Falkland Islands.

    Here they installed a fully integrated system back in 2007 (http://www.vetropark.org/d/59743/d/enercon_stand-alone_en.pdf) and even included massive battery storage for the wind energy. Even though wind can account for fully 18% of the Falkland’s total generation, yearly fuel savings are turning out to be only a third that (6.25%) and this using perhaps the most IDEAL, fully automated and integrated wind/diesel setup on the planet!

    The turbine size in this system max out at 900kw, not the multi-megawatt juggernauts imposed upon much of the rest of the “green” world. Additionally, integration on Enercon’s system is fully automated at source, simply a scaled up version of what any homeowner can by in the retail market. No “grid management” required.

    Even with this system, one is forced to question if the fuel saved justifies the extra capital cost of this at least thoughtful, turnkey system.

    Be all this as it may, it isn’t what we’re doing here in Ontario which is why it won’t EVER work just like it hasn’t anywhere else it has been tried on this scale either!

    B.B.W.

  26. Barbara said:

    “There is no way that families can pay this amount of money. Will reduce the standard of living for all.”

    And there you have it Barbara. The standard of living for all has to be reduced to “sustain the planet”. This is the plan. It’s not McGuinty’s plan, or a Liberal scheme. It comes right from the top and is pushed down to all governments all the way to the local level.

    There was a prior comment too about “taking from rich countries and giving to the poor”. Don’t be fooled by that. It’s a ploy to apply pressure from the developing world onto the West. We’ve seen this at Copenhagan. Wealth will definately be siphoned from the rich countries. However, in my opinion, very little will end up in the pockets of the poorer Nations’ governments. So where will the money truly end up?

    At the very least, it wouldn’t surpise me to see something along the lines of another “Oil for Food Scandal”.

  27. Bet a lot of the money received from the developed nations will end up in Swiss numbered bank accounts.

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