PORT ROWAN – Wind turbines are hurting the economies of Ontario municipalities by driving down waterfront property values and effectively keeping new industry away, says a Chatham-area lawyer involved in the fight against wind power.
Turbines have become so unpopular people no longer buy homes “if they see one anywhere within 360 degrees,” said Douglas Desmond of Ridgetown.
This results in diving property values, which in turn leads to lower assessments and fewer property tax dollars collected, Desmond told a session organized by the group Carolinian Canada Coalition.
As well, communities such as Chatham-Kent — which saw its first turbines go up last fall — won’t have the stock of luxury waterfront homes needed “to court senior management” of companies looking for locations for their factories and offices, he added.
“We need the residential development along our shorelines for the tax base,” Desmond said. “You can really gouge lakeshore people.
“The economic impact (of the turbines) will extend far into the economy of Chatham-Kent.”
Desmond was speaking to a group of conservationists gathered at the Legion here for an afternoon information session.
Opposition to turbines has been growing across Ontario. Residents in communities that host them — including the west end of Norfolk County — say they are suffering from a myriad of health problems caused by the towers’ swirling blades, such as headaches and sleeplessness.
Some say they have had to move out of their homes completely.
The average drop in property values for homes near turbines is 20-40%, said Desmond, who lives with turbines close to his farm.
“My home has lost 100% of its value,” Houghton-area resident Stephana Johnston told the meeting. “I can’t sleep in my home.”
Stricter regulations for new wind turbine projects could be on the way, however, Desmond said.
An Environmental Review Tribunal hearing held this spring in Chatham could call for a lengthening of the mandatory 550-metre setback between homes and turbines to 1,500-2,000 metres, he told the meeting.
Many of the world’s top experts took part in the hearing, Desmond said. “It’ll be an extremely important decision, whatever the tribunal decides . . . They are waiting all over the world for this decision.”
Chatham-Kent now has 203 turbines but plans call for another 430, he said.
Since the first ones went up last fall, complaints from residents have been “coming in fast and furious,” said Desmond.
Town halls are handcuffed by the Green Energy Act, which has allows the province to locate wind and solar projects wherever they want without the say-so of local government, the meeting was reminded.
Desmond called for municipalities to band together and demand the province stop excluding them from the planning process for wind and solar developments.