What the hell is happening in Huron County?

Patti Kellar
Many people are wondering what is going on and what comes next.

Below is a photograph taken at the March 3rd Board of Health Meeting in Huron County. Over 80 people at a meeting that typically no one attends.dsc06480Please try not to be too discouraged by the recent decision made by the Board of Health to pause the health investigation begun by Dr. Owen in Huron County.

For those not yet aware, the Board of Health in Huron County, Ontario Canada (comprised of current or past municipal councillors) voted unanimously (other than one abstention /conflict of interest) at a closed meeting, to oust Dr. Owen (Acting Medical Officer of Health).  We were assured afterwards by Mayor Tyler Hessel / Chair of the Board of Health that the investigation was to continue and we felt badly for Dr. Owen but we were also relieved to know her work was still going to matter.  After all, when an agency is mandated to investigate health complaints, it would seem reasonable to assume that they would do so once started, even in the absence of the person in charge who initiated it.  If this investigation involved water or food and the public expressed concerns, they would have to follow through with it, would they not?  Mayor Hessel had assured us that the Health Unit’s epidemiologist, Dr. Erica Clark was  the lead in the investigation and things were proceeding ‘at this point’.

It turns out, those last three words were pretty significant.

Just a few weeks later, Mayor Hessel and the Board of Health voted unanimously  to put the investigation on hold. Read article

31 thoughts on “What the hell is happening in Huron County?

  1. This is what the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act mandates under Part III Community Health Protection:

    “Complaint re health hazard related to occupational or environmental health
    11. (1) Where a complaint is made to a board of health or a medical officer of health that a health hazard related to occupational or environmental health exists in the health unit served by the board of health or the medical officer of health, the medical officer of health shall notify the ministry of the Government of Ontario that has primary responsibility in the matter and, in consultation with the ministry, the medical officer of health shall investigate the complaint to determine whether the health hazard exists or does not exist.” [emphasis added]

    However, according to the notes in this article:
    “Dr. Copes did not see It (the investigation) as a legislated obligation to investigate.”

    Maybe this needs Judicial Review?

    OTOH, people have been so busy consuming [wasting] resources at the ERT but failing to identify it’s A RACKET?

  2. “Audit” was mentioned in Patti’s report.

    At one time in the past and being in charge of the ‘flower-fund” at work our fund was became part of an audit investigation. Our fund bank records came up short of $5 or a little less.

    I was quite concerned but the auditor in charge of the investigation said that was not even enough money to worry about. But another employee was caught embezzling several thousand dollars in another part of the audit investigation.

    Just mentioning “audit” can put a chill on any organization.

    • Barbara – the notes mention setting up a hotline through Rick Chappell of Ministry of Environment (Owen Sound?). Can you find out more about this person’s educational and employment background? It does not appear to be in health.

  3. Any way to find out if he received a degree from Fanshawe College and if so what it’s in? Also, what was his previous employment prior to the MOECC?

    • Contact the library at Fanshawe College and ask if he is on their alumni list. Email should do the job. And they might have what degree or certificate he received.

      Or contact the alumni office.

      Nothing posted about previous employment online.

      The pea got moved under the shells!

      Was a transcript or recording of this meeting made?

      • If the “audit” threat is uncovered this is a serious issue.

        If audits are done, then it may be said for example that people did not use funding correctly. Or people didn’t do their jobs correctly.

        Audits don’t need to imply theft by employees to put a chill on an organization.

        Scares other Health Boards as well. This is a fear tactic.

  4. Huron County was NOT the first health unit to “investigate complaints” per the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.

    Medical Officer of Health for Haldimand & Norfolk Counties, Dr. Malcolm Lock, claims he “investigated” complaints from Clear Creek as he was “obliged” to do. (his words)

    Years earlier, Dr. Lock, among others, had been advised by Dr. Ray Copes to “fess up” about indirect health effects known to be caused by exposure to industrial wind energy projects.

    • IWTs have emerged now as part of the overall “sustainability” plan. There was no way to see this prior to this time.

      Renewable energy has to be used for “sustainabilty” no matter what the cost is for rural residents.

      At least one big reason why projects keep being installed in communities that have said NO.

      No health issues allowed to interfere with “sustainabilty” either.

      Or any other issues such as property values.

      Only reason this has alarmed the urban public is they have learned they are involved in this as well.

    • Where would we find out more about this?

      Who has prevented this from happening? Who has ‘tied so many hands”?

      • Follow up on what happened in Huron County is needed.

        Board records, emails, FOIAS.

        The Board could be a victim as well?

  5. What would happen if local residents “forgot” to pay their property taxes due again later this summer?

    Let the towns live off from vibrancy funds?

  6. “Commissioner watching turbine noise”
    Denis Langlois | Owen Sound Sun Times (paper edition)
    Saturday, May 28, 2016

    Ontario’s environmental and energy policy watchdog says she will be keeping a close eye on how well the province deals with wind turbines that it finds exceed Ontario’s noise limits.

    “There have been a lot of issues where the government’s response has been ineffective and we’re looking to see it become more effective and quicker,” Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Dianne Saxe said in an interview after her keynote address Friday at The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation’s biennial conference in Port Elgin.

    Saxe, an environmental lawyer who began her new role as the ECO earlier this year, said the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change recently released an updated compliance protocol for wind turbine noise and her office will be monitoring how well the government follows those guidelines.

    “We don’t get to make anybody do anything, but what we can do is draw attention to issues and we can obtain information,” she said.

    The Ontario Ombudsman’s office, she said, has been working on the issue of compliance for several years and is the appropriate agency to deal with individual complaints about government conduct.

    “I’ll be co-ordinating with the ombudsman’s office and communicating directly with the ministry to make sure that they know we’re both watching to see that they do follow the guidelines and enforce the rules on noise from wind turbines,” she said.

    The new compliance protocol, which came into effect on May 1, does not reduce the sound level limits for wind facilities. It does, however, lay out clearer and consistent parameters for completing noise impact assessments of turbines after the ministry receives a complaint.

    One of the requirements, for example, is that noise calculations will only be recorded when the turbine output is greater than 85 per cent.

    Saxe said both she and Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube have expressed concerns several times to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change about the issue of turbine noise compliance and the government’s handling of complaints.

    Last month, Huron-Bruce Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa Thompson and a delegation from her riding met with Saxe at her office in Toronto.

    “They wanted to share with the environmental commissioner the realities of wind farms being developed throughout Ontario and there is a huge issue around noise compliance and the negative impacts that that issue has on neighbourhoods in which the turbines are found,” Thompson said in an interview at the conference.

    She said it is encouraging to know that both Saxe and Dube are aware of the concerns around noise compliance and plan to monitor the government’s response.

    She said people should continue to voice any concerns about turbine noise.

    “We’re going to keep holding the government’s feet to the fire because people deserve to have this issue addressed,” she said.

    Opponents of wind turbines have long said that noise from the machines cause a variety of health problems in people living nearby.

    A Health Canada study in 2013, however, found no evidence “to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported or measured health endpoints examined.”

    During her 50-minute address to delegates at the Coastal Centre’s “Is the Coast Clear?” conference, Saxe spoke about her role as environment commissioner which includes serving as a watchdog over Ontario’s environmental, energy and climate performance and serving as a guardian of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights.

    She also provided some tips on how to write effective comments on proposed government policies.

    • Here we have the wolf watching the coyote watching the fox guard the hen house.

      Saxe’s pro IWT agenda is firmly established.

      Until I see proof otherwise, the status quo remains.

      • Laundering: taking something that’s dirty and trying to make it clean.

    • Saxe says there have been a lot of issues where government’s response has been ineffective.

      Which issues?
      Where are the public reports that detail this ineffectiveness?

      ‘[excerpt] Saxe said both she and Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube have expressed concerns several times to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change about the issue of turbine noise compliance and the government’s handling of complaints.’

      At Environmental Review Tribunal hearings, the Ontario MOE has been testifying and arguing for years that noise prediction models relied on for approval are accurate, that the MOE’s compliance protocol is legitimate, and that wind energy projects are operating “in compliance.”

      Now Saxe opines there’s been a problem. But there’s no official disclosure and people are being misled, not to mention deprived of their common law rights.


  7. Are the people of Huron County about to agree away their right to a legislatively-defined and mandated investigation, calling it “collaboration” with unaccountable university researchers?

    “Collaboration would provide a wider purpose,” some say, but would it? Is this what’s needed?

    Is the “investigation” going to investigate that Amplitude Modulation should have been accounted for in the noise regulations ten years ago?


    “Huron County Board of Health to consider collaboration on health investigation”
    June 2, 2016

    At the June meeting of the Huron County Board of Health meeting today, the (acting) Medical Officer of Health suggested collaborating in an investigation with the University of Waterloo as a means of addressing the Board’s concerns with the current follow-up project.

    Collaboration with the University of Waterloo would provide a wider purpose to the proposed Huron Health Unit investigation of health complaints.

    Wind Concerns Ontario has been exploring the possibility of investigating health/noise complaints with the University of Waterloo for some time.

    As the work being done in Huron County would provide good input into the investigation, Wind Concerns approached the Medical Officer of Health as requested by the University of Waterloo during a recent teleconference, to see if there was interest in a collaborative approach.

    Though more discussions are pending, we see this as a positive development. More information will be provided when available.
    Wind Concerns Ontario

    • shocked and disgusted, I am in agreement w/ you concerning the legislatively-defined and mandated investigation. It appears that this is a stall tactic and a way Dr. Klassen and the BOH can pawn off THEIR legislative responsibility. In May, the BOH/ MOH’s tone was to wash their hands of it completely and kick it back to the province. Likely they received a lot of flack and are concerned of the appearance of firing Owen and ALSO cancelling her health investigation and the public outrage.

      Dr. Owen had already collaborated with the University of Waterloo, the wind companies, the MOECC, PHO, and many researchers around the world. The preparation and development for Owen’s team’s investigation took months and was set to go live last month! Now, they are going to “reinvent the wheel” and make every aspect conditional on approval from a BOH with no medical background?

      Also, notice the word “CONSIDER” in referring to the health investigation….collaboration or otherwise I imagine.

      We are lucky that WCO got involved and is attempting to resurrect this “paused” investigation. However, the HCHU and Dr. Erica Clark need to remain the lead in the investigation and the data collected analyzed and available on a seasonal basis – as was promised by Dr. Erica Clark, Owen and Jean-Guy Albert.

    • We can pull up records of how so-called intelligent researchers, including in the Office of Research Ethics at University of Waterloo, dropped the ball when the Ontario government awarded a “Research Chair” in “Renewable Energy Technologies and Health” to UW in 2010.

      How can anyone believe researchers at UW are willing to collaborate in an honest-to-goodness “investigation” when, after $1.5 million + in research funding, and 6 six years since the creation of the RETH chair, there has been no relief–and in fact, proliferation–of victims’ suffering?

      If UW were sincere about studying or even “investigating” health hazards (or not) caused by the development of wind energy projects in Ontario, then they would have addressed (the fraud of) the noise regulations that do NOT account for Amplitude Modulation, years ago.

      These are great questions, gaps that WCO and others would be wise to address.

      The Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act clearly defines a responsibility for a Medical Officer of Health to “investigate” “where complaints are made”. For the life of me, I can’t explain why there haven’t been more legal challenges on this basis, especially considering so much that’s been wasted at ERT hearings.

      • Was the protocol finalized and ready to be used? Can a copy of this be obtained?

        Are there any organizations elsewhere in the world that could handle a health study such as this?

        In this computer age information can be compiled anywhere in the world. You can also phone all over the world for not too much money.

      • Probably need an organization that deals with medical studies involving computer collected data.

        Data can be collected anyplace in the world and then analyzed by professionals.

        As long as the protocols already established are used/followed.

  8. Each day that goes by with people in Huron County being exposed to low frequency sound modulations and infrasound radiation and noise is a violation/crime. These turbines can be turned off and should have been when the complaints were first made. At the very least these turbines should be curtailed so as to reduce the noise and the physical/psychological effects of low frequency sound modulations and infrasound radiation.
    Some are fully aware of the cause of their symptoms because they started to appear when the turbines started operating near their homes. Others are experiencing the same symptoms and distressing sensations but still have not realized what is causing these symptoms and sensations.
    Necessary changes need to be made immediately. This is not a statement of mere impatience. This is an ethical imperative for responsible, protective decision making.

    • Sommer, you’re right to question the decision-making of these fiduciaries, noting they are failing at risk management.

      Look what happened at Enron!

      ‘[excerpt] The larger problem, according to Overall, is that good people can be coerced, or moved by performance pressures, into doing things that are contrary to their beliefs, especially if they are financially dependent on their employment.

      Believe it or not, even Andrew Fastow, the former CFO of Enron, argues that most financial scandals do not happen because the business world is packed with corrupt individuals. In an IBJ interview with Ivey Business School Professor Gerard Seijts, who heads Ivey’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, Fastow points out, “The media portrayed us as a bunch of sinister guys sitting in a dimly lit room trying to think of ways to rip people off. It wasn’t that way. When we did these creative deals, they weren’t hidden. We had parties to celebrate them. We got awards for them. Magazines wrote articles that extolled the virtues of them. I’m not sure that it’s fair to give myself the benefit of the doubt, but I like to think that I wouldn’t have done what I did if it had dawned on me that my actions were potentially criminal. It just never did.”

      Fastow adds: “The fact that I did not see what I was doing as fraud, and the fact that I was not thinking that what I was doing could hurt people, doesn’t mitigate what I did. It indicts me further for lacking the character required to identify those things.”’

      “Enron Explained”
      An interview with former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow

      ‘[excerpt] IBJ: OK, so about 14 years later, you pleaded guilty to securities and wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with the U.S. investigation into the collapse of Enron. But what many people fail to understand is that you never set out to commit a crime or hurt anyone, right? In fact, you often felt like kind of a hero for helping the company?

      Fastow: That is correct. This is the result of a character flaw of mine, but it never dawned on me that what I was doing could hurt anyone. My initial job was to do off balance sheet financing. And that evolved into doing structured finance, specifically to help the company meet its financial objectives. One of those financial objectives was to appear more creditworthy, or healthier, which lowers the cost of financing and expands access to capital. The way I saw it, at least at the time, was that this benefits the shareholders and employees, driving growth along with share-price increases. So I saw it as doing something good. But before we go further, let me say that what I did was absolutely wrong. Sitting here today, I believe that I was guilty of committing fraud, and I’m very sorry for that. I’m very sorry for my actions. So I’m not trying to make excuses when I say I thought I was doing something good. I’m simply telling you what I was thinking at the time, not trying to justify my actions. It’s very important that you understand where I’m coming from. The fact that I did not see what I was doing as fraud, and the fact that I was not thinking that what I was doing could hurt people, doesn’t mitigate what I did. It indicts me further for lacking the character required to identify those things.’


    • “Enron Explained” (cont’d)

      ‘[excerpt] IBJ: Was there any time when you wondered if what you were doing was wrong?

      Fastow: Well, I wouldn’t use the word “wrong,” but there was a point in time when I started to get concerned about our regulatory filings. It was early 2001, when Enron was reporting record earnings for fiscal 2000, and a copy of the draft 10-K, the annual report form required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, supposedly giving the regulators a comprehensive summary of a company’s financial performance, was being circulated to senior management for comment. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this filing really does not describe a company anything like Enron.” Wondering if that was a problem, I called a meeting, which included our chief accounting officer, inside and outside legal counsel, as well as two partners from Arthur Andersen. After hearing my concerns, the head of Arthur Andersen’s energy practice turned to me and said, “Andy, every single deal you’ve done at Enron has been approved. Every deal is technically correct, and therefore by definition, whatever pops out the bottom is not materially misleading.” I turned to the lawyers and said, “I’m reading the related party disclosure, and I’m the related party, but I can’t understand what you’ve written.” One of the lawyers looked at me and said, “Thank you. I get paid to write technically correct, incomprehensible disclosures.” Now, at that point, if I was doing my job and had the character required to do it right, I should have said, “The whole point of calling this meeting was because this is misleading, so it doesn’t matter that it’s technically correct.” But I didn’t. I accepted what I was told. Remember, the rules allowed off balance sheet financing, which is done by 95 per cent of the companies in the United States. And every single deal that I did at Enron was approved by the accountants, auditors, attorneys and the board of directors. This is the whole point of the lecture I now give to business audiences on lessons learned. It’s dangerous to ignore the principles behind the rules because it is possible to follow all the rules and still commit fraud and be misleading.’

  9. Barbara,
    The HCHU was using a computer program called “fluid survey.” e-mail the HCHU at scronin@huroncounty.ca and request the May 12th submission to the BOH by the environmental health manager. There are approx 7-9 files that will be sent as an
    e-mail attachment.

  10. Maybe what’s important is that HC residents have copies of these just in case any changes in the original program are made.

    When something can’t be done one way, then look for alternative ways to do things.

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