The stance by Dr. Hazel Lynn, medical officer of health for Grey Bruce, on industrial wind turbines appears to be unchanged from 2009 when she and Dr. Ray Copes, director of environmental and occupational health for Grey Bruce, held two public meetings in Owen Sound and Walkerton.
Dr. Copes, newly arrived to the Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, was questioned about his experience with wind turbines. He told the crowd that he had stopped in Shelburne to stand near the turbines on his way to that very meeting and found he had no difficulty in the time he stood there for.
Dr. Lynn claims 8 to 15 percent of people living near turbines are adversely affected in Grey Bruce/Southwestern Ontario. A proper study would give a proper percentage of those feeling the effects of turbines.
The number of 8 percent affected came forward from the following, according to Andrew Barton, public health employee: “I was asked to provide an approximate percentage of households in the vicinity of the wind farm who complained about health effects. The board wanted to know the approximate number/scale. The number was derived by dividing the number of households in the vicinity by the number of households who had complained.
As I had no guidelines to the ‘vicinity,’ I chose an arbitrary figure of a 1-kilometre setback from each turbine. This was enough to include all the complainants’ households, but not all of the households that some may consider to be in the complex. As such, the percentage may be a little higher than quoted by some people.” It is not clear that Mr. Barton went out into the community in an attempt to include all affected in his calculations.
Even so, 5 to 15 percent of a population is very high. Based on these numbers, if turbines were placed in green spaces, parks and ravines in Toronto, how many people would be adversely affected? Would urban dwellers put up with what has been imposed on rural residents?
In talking to so many and reading survey returns from so many who were blindsided by what happened to them after turbines started up, I am going to continue to sound the alarm. I am going to listen to people living near turbines who continue to try to get government ministries such as the Ministry of the Environment and agencies such as public health to understand the magnitude of families getting so sick that they finally have to leave their homes. I will, as will many others, continue to question the ministries and agencies who continue to use literature review to put dismissive statements forward as opposed to actually talking to the people who are struggling in this province.
People living near turbines say you don’t get used to it. You get sick. At a recent meeting regarding the expansion of another aggregate pit near Shelburne, Mr. Bernard Pope, founder of Ontario Farmland Preservation, said he believes that wind turbines are the next plague for rural Ontario.
Obesity, smoking, and alcohol use are more prevalent and more of a concern as Dr. Lynn sees it. That is a fitting view considering the mandate, resources, and expertise available to public health.
The parallel Dr. Lynn makes in comparing adverse effects from turbines with self-inflicted social vices, however, makes absolutely no sense to me and, once again, dismisses the seriousness of what is happening or about to happen to us in rural Ontario.
I don’t recall families forced to leave their home from obesity, smoking, or alcohol use.
Lorrie Gillis, Grey Highlands