by Eddie Chau, Niagara This Week
It was all about wind energy in Wainfleet this past Wednesday.
About 100 people packed Wainfleet Township council chambers on Feb. 23 to voice their two cents worth on the hot topic at the moment in the municipality: wind turbines. Wainfleet Township Council held a public meeting in order to receive feedback from residents regarding the matter.
The subject in mind is the proposed wind farm by Wainfleet Wind Energy Project, developed as a joint venture between IPC Energy and the Loeffen Farms. The project calls for the installation of five turbines over a land area of 3,400 hectares in Wainfleet’s lakeshore area.
While the purpose of the meeting was for residents to give input on matter such as building permits, landscaping, emergency procedures or the environmental issues pertaining to the project, residents chose to freely express their concerns in general about it.
Rathfon Road resident Andrew Watts said council cannot support things that aren’t good for the community. Watts said he doesn’t understand why the township doesn’t have the authority to protect its residents from the project.
“I think they are the biggest money cash grab in Ontario,” Watts said.
Lakeshore road resident Lee Bott said the concept of erecting turbines tears apart communities all over the world and would not like to see the same happen to Wainfleet. Bott said she moved to Wainfleet to live in a “peaceful, simple” community and it could be taken away should the turbines goes up.
Bott said she did some research and noted in a 2007 study from Denmark that the country imported more electricity then it gave out due to wind turbines not working properly. Bott said the turbines have serious environmental effects, high production costs and serious noise output.
“It’s not a matter of affecting a few people. It’s affecting a lot of people,” Bott said. “Be careful what you wish for.”
Ald. Ted Hessels wondered about road allowances pertaining to the project and whether the cost of maintenance would be covered by the proponents. Township planner Grant Munday said as part of the agreement with the proponents they will have to pay for any damage to the roads caused by construction of the turbines.
Munday said in some cases deposits are taken to ensure work is completed.
Sideroad 23 resident Tim McCormack said he was concerned about infrastructure. With turbine project going in, McCormack said taxes will go up because the roads will be torn up.
“Did you drive down Lakeshore Road to see the quality of the roads?” he said. “Think of infrastructure. What will you have to build in order to keep residents here?”
Augustine Road resident Dan Augustine said he supported wind energy in Wainfleet. Augustine noted wind mills are ancient technology having been around for 900 years with no problems and wind power is an inexpensive resource and not harmful such as coal or fuel-based energy.
Augustine took a shot at users of nearby Skydive Burnaby, the main business concerned about turbine development. Augustine said mother nature has given birds internal navigation skills to guide around the turbine.
“I hope the parachuters can do the same,” he said to gasps from the audience.
Buckner Road resident Lewis Shedden said he doesn’t know how natural habitat will be affected by the turbines. He believed the turbines will kill off hawks and falcons and possibly chase deer away.
“They also kill bats,” Shedden said. “They don’t have to hit the blades. They are hit by sonar, which decompresses them. Their lungs will explode.”
Ald. David Wyatt said turbines is a huge issue in Wainfleet and something he took to heart when he was elected to council last October. Wyatt stated he wasn’t against green energy, but concerned about how to develop windmills in Wainfleet.
“I don’t’ think the issue will go away anytime soon,” Wyatt said. “We want the moratorium to gather as much information pro and con so council can look at the benefits for Wainfleet.”
Council accepted the feedback Thursday as it goes into deciding the fate of a proposed moratorium on wind turbines at its March 8 meeting.