The Town of Saugeen Shores, its residents and council, are up in arms as construction of the C AW’s wind turbine began this week. The location of the turbine–in a residential neighbourhood at the CAW’s Family Education Centre– flaunts provincial laws and municipal legislation because the property is too small. The turbine will be closer to homes than allowed under current provincial law designed to protect health. The Ministry of the Environment is allowing the project to proceed because approval was obtained before the laws changed. “It s insane,” said Greg Schmalz, who lives across the road from the Centre. “Pure and simple, it’s just wrong.”
Anger turned to outrage this week as people learned that the turbine doesn’t even need to be located there. For the past six years, residents were informed (by a C AW pamphlet distributed to the community) that the turbine would “supply the Family Education Centre with its electrical power needs“. However, residents have discovered that after all public hearings the CAW recently signed a government “Feed-in Tariff Contract” to sell the power to the grid. The turbine, a commercial for-profit venture, now breaks municipal zoning bylaws.
“It s just a feeder,” said Paul Krane, an angered resident. “It doesn’t even need to be located there,” he says pointing to the CAW’s soccer field. “Taxpayers are subsidizing the building of this turbine and the CAW will profit from selling the electricity. Meanwhile , Saugeen Shores residents are paying with their health.”
Town council agreed the project goes against its municipal wind turbine bylaw and policy, it’s zoning bylaws and provincial 550 meter health and safety setbacks. Saugeen Shores council wants the project stopped but, so far, has been powerless to do anything about it as changes to the law by the Liberal Government took away any Town’s power to enforce zoning on wind turbines
“We have no objections to the idea of wind power,” said Saugeen Shore’s mayor Mike Smith. “There are a lot of places it could go… we don’t think (the turbine) should be there with houses which are going to be 150 meters away.”
S.T.O.P. (Saugeen Turbine Operation Policy), a local advocacy group, has banded residents together to convince government to revoke the project’s permit and is supported by Windconcerns Ontario who represent 58 groups like S.T.O.P. all over Ontario.