by Jim Wilson, MPPm Simcoe.com
Nobody knows what’s best for a community better than the people, small businesses and local councillors who live there. That is why it is so maddening to see signs of large industrial wind and solar projects pushing ahead despite endless local opposition. Under any other circumstance, ratepayers would have a say in what is built in their community. Your local council can determine where a hot dog stand can go, but because of Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act, they are not allowed to determine where a 40-storey industrial turbine or a 300 acre solar farm can go.
That decision is reserved for bureaucrats off of Bay Street. Their job is to impose Dalton McGuinty’s fantasy view of rural Ontario.
They hold the rubber stamp when it comes to approving whether Pennsylvania’s Penn Energy can build massive landscape altering solar farms in Adjala-Tosorontio and Essa.
They will also determine whether a German company’s Fairview Wind Project or Windrush Energy’s Skyway 124 will go ahead in Clearview, and whether Recurrent Energy out of California gets its approvals for a giant solar project in Springwater Township.
And they will do so looking at maps in a distant office tower while ignoring local input.
If local participation was a clause in the Green Energy Act, it would ensure that the Collingwood Regional Airport’s concerns about the Fairview Wind Project, expressed by Charlie Tatham, were not only listened to, but acted on.
As chair of the airport services board, Mr. Tatham comments are significant. He wrote, “Willfully placing turbines near a frequent flight path increases the risk of catastrophic events.”
This comment alone underscores the need for local input in order for sound decisions to be made, and it is no doubt a part of the reason that Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Clearview have opposed this particular project.
Since there is no provision for local input, Adjala-Tosorontio had to pass a motion at Council asking the province for the ability to comment or approve projects, such as the 6 and 7 megawatt industrial solar farms being proposed for Concession Road 7.
Local residents could have their say about where a Tim Horton’s can go, but they can’t express their deep concerns, made publicly and to my office, about the loss of prime agricultural land.
In Clearview, there are countless ratepayers who are simply terrified by the health effects of turbines being placed close to home. Councillors there have, like so many others, asked the province for the ability to provide input.
Even Greenpeace is on the warpath. Dr. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of the organization, told a gathering of farmers in Southwestern Ontario recently that the wind power industry is “a destroyer of wealth and negative to the economy.” He went on to say that wind farms are “ridiculously expensive and don’t work half the time.”
If this isn’t enough blow-back to a failed policy, consider this recent missive from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
“The situation regarding Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT) has become untenable. The proliferation of wind turbines across rural Ontario has seriously polarized our rural communities. Residents not engaged in turbine developments have been pitted against neighbours, over concerns with health impacts and quality of life issues. IWT development currently preoccupies the rural agenda.”
The OFA – once a supporter of the Green Energy Act – is bang on in their analysis. Dalton McGuinty’s green energy policies are dividing Ontario.
Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey