As a politician it is “part of the territory” to get criticized for decisions made (or not made). I accept that. I have no problem with people expressing their views.
I do prefer that they have the facts, however.
Melancthon Council handled phase one of the Melancthon wind project. As the first commercial wind farm in Ontario we were pioneers and we learned things through that process.
In phase two we requested more studies, greater setbacks, no overhead wiring and other items. In fact Council passed a motion to table the application until the Environmental Screening Report was received in case things had to be elevated to a full environmental assessment. Through that process Canadian Hydro Developers decided to try to protect their construction season and exercised their legal right to approach the Ontario Municipal Board stating that Melancthon was lax in making a decision.
Over the next year and a half or so there were several meetings open to the public with input requested. This input included greater need for setbacks, noise, potential property value declines and many more items.
In the end the conditions and regulations for approval of phase two, including Amaranth, were laid out by the Ontario Municipal Board, NOT Melancthon Council. If the information fell on deaf ears, those ears did not belong to the Melancthon Councillors.
The Green Energy Act in essence, removes the rights of the public from the process. It does not allow a direct appeal to the OMB if they object. The public can make an application to the Minister to request a “bump up” to a full environmental assessment of a project if they have concerns. Considering the Provinces view on the whole process it seems to me the chances of that happening are very remote.
That brings us to the motion that the Council recently passed. It had nothing to do with control. There were two distinct things that occurred. On October 19th a lawsuit was filed asking for a judicial review of the Green Energy Act based on the Precautionary Principles as it applies to the industrial wind turbine installations.
While some have portrayed this as a “David versus Goliath” situation, remember, David won the first time. Therefore, if the courts decided turbines should be set back a mile, or the court ruled there were health concerns, why would anyone want 40 or 400 MORE turbines with setbacks less than ruled correct under the law.
The second issue dealt with the successful appeal of an Amaranth resident about the noise generated from the transfer station (transformer) by his property.
While his concern was quite specific regarding noise (I know he had others) The recent ruling by the Assessment Review Board was NOT that specific with TRANSFORMER noise and dealt only with noise levels, generally.
Therefore, that opens up the potential for ANY resident close to a turbine to do studies. If the noise generated exceeds the limit they could successfully have their taxes reduced. This was explained to the Malloy’s when this motion was discussed at Council.
The motion that we are being criticized for passing reads as follows;”
Be it resolved that: Whereas the Green Energy Act was proclaimed May 14,2009 and changes the way that renewable energy projects proceed in the Province of Ontario, And whereas this Act removes Municipal and public involvement in the process, And whereas the Premier has not fulfilled his promise to appoint an ombudsmen to investigate health concerns relating to wind power, And whereas on October 19,2009 a court challenge requesting a judicial review of the Green Energy Act 2009 on the Precautionary Principle as it applies to industrial wind turbine installations; And whereas a recent decision by the Assessment Review Board upheld the appeal of an individual ratepayer and reduced the assessment of his property by 50%, And whereas both of those events could have significant negative impact on host Municipalities, Therefore be it resolved that we strongly suggest that the Province of Ontario issue a moratorium on future wind power development until the court case is settled and the financial impact of reassessment can be determined, Further we encourage the Premier to keep his promise and appoint an ombudsmen to deal with health issues as a result of commercial wind farms.”.
It is surprising that with Mr. Malloy hoping to become a Councillor in the next election and represent the people of Melancthon that he would be critical of action taken to potentially protect the quality of life and financial well being of the people he hopes to serve, considering their concerns are being ignored by the Provincial Government.
On the other hand if successful he too will have to get used to unfounded criticism.
Bill Hill Deputy Mayor, Township of Melancthon