On Tuesday evening, Dec. 7, a group of concerned ratepayers and residents of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh braved the blustery weather and made a presentation to council with respect to industrial wind turbine development in our municipality and beyond. It has become apparent, from telephone calls received since Tuesday evening, that there would have been a much better turnout that evening but for the inclement weather conditions.
It is by no means an exhaustive examination of the issues arising from wind turbine development. Nor is it meant to be. It is simply an overview, with the hope that more community involvement will follow, and council will be supported in making the best decisions possible for the citizens of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh as we move forward.
The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 has removed land use regulatory powers such as Official Plans, Zoning and other related instruments which were granted to the municipalities by the Province by way of the Ontario Planning Act. As a result, and as you well know municipalities no longer regulate any aspects of renewable energy projects. However, renewable energy proponents must consult with municipalities on matters related to servicing and infrastructure provisions. There is a challenge to the Green Energy Act currently working its way through the legal system. As well, the first Renewable Energy Approval, under the current regulations of the Green Energy Act, is facing an appeal which was filed with the Environmental Review Tribunal on Nov. 29.
Central Huron Against Turbines, Huron East Against Turbines, Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines, Northern Ontario for No Wind, Bruce Peninsula Against Industrial Wind, Middlesex Wind Action Group and Manvers – Gone with the Wind, The townships of Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie, Cavan Monghan, Pelee, Mulmur, Amaranth and Melancthon – these are just some of the municipal governments across the province which have enacted by-laws, passed resolutions, formed alliances and appealed to the provincial government in an effort to address the economic, future development, safety and health issues which have arisen in the wake of this quixotic quest for green energy. Among other things, these initiatives address powers being restored to municipalities, requests for independent health studies, development agreements, the issuance of certificates from Health Canada and provincial ministries before a building permit is issued, revision of provincial setback requirements, property tax appeals and a province wide moratorium on industrial wind turbine development until the many unresolved matters are dealt with.
County Federations of Agriculture are reporting that farmers with signed wind tower leases have expressed concern that they were misled into thinking they were protected by the Noise and Tower Set Back regulations in the Green Energy Act. They now have the Ontario Federation of Agriculture lobbying the Ontario government to amend the Green Energy Act to protect them. Our local federation has passed four resolutions in an effort to address this and other issues related to industrial wind turbine development.
All things considered, we may be well positioned for the perfect storm. Nevertheless, the fundamental role and duty of all three levels of government in Canada – federal, provincial and municipal – is to take all steps necessary to protect the health, safety and well being of their residents. With that in mind as job one, we are respectfully requesting the following from you, our Council:
- That you add your voice to the municipal call for a province wide moratorium on industrial wind turbine development until the many unresolved matters are dealt with.
- That you support, enact and adopt municipal resolutions, by-laws and development agreements which will best protect all residents of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh and which will be in the spirit of a united municipal response to our provincial government’s “cart before the horse” approach.
- That any council member, who has a pecuniary interest in wind turbine development in this municipality, declare a conflict of interest and step away from this matter as appropriate for such a declaration.
- That you continue to be an active presence at meetings, such as the one recently held in Seaforth, in order to gather information and be part of the growing municipal council response to industrial wind turbine development in this province.
- That you take your time with the matter of industrial wind turbine development. Much is at stake. Robert Hornung, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association was recently quoted in the Orangeville Citizen as stating, “The Green Energy Act does clearly contain requirements and provisions.” The article goes on to say, ‘but those are the minimum standards and provisions. To overcome that problem, CanWEA has been drafting a document, Best Practices for Community Engagement and Consultation, a principle of which would be to “consult early and often.”
The prevailing sentiment in many municipalities across Ontario is one of frustration when it comes to industrial wind turbine development. We can learn from townships which are further down this road than we are. Are these developments a case of too many too close to where people are trying to live? How much social marketing is at play here? How much politically correct green group think? Is the greenest thing here the greenbacks? Are there more viable renewable energy projects which would better suit our community? We need people to make communities. How would this basic premise be impacted by further wind turbine development?
Epcor did, and Capital Power does promote itself as a conscientious corporate citizen, citing a strong desire to work with all stakeholders in any community it approaches. With respect to the Kingsbridge II Wind Power Project, the official website for Capital Power states, “Our goal is to develop a Project that, to the greatest extent possible, is both environmentally sound and respects the values and interests of the local community.” Council, you have gone the distance in the past to protect the best interests of our municipality. Water related issues come to mind immediately. Don’t drop the ball on this one. You must do everything in your power to ensure the safety and security of ALL ratepayers and residents. Given the state of affairs in this province, why would we in A-C-W throw caution to the wind and embark on any further development at this point in time? And why would Capital One, given its stated desire to “develop and maintain strong relationships with our neighbours throughout our Project area,” do anything other than step back and give us all the time we need to address this complex issue?
Anita Frayne, Kingsbridge