Ontario’s setback distances don’t address impacts from wind turbines

by Trish Crang, New Hamburg Independent
I’m writing to express my concerns on the misinformation being disseminated by the Ontario government regarding industrial wind turbines and the setback requirements from homes and properties. Both Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley have been repeatedly quoted as saying that the setback requirements in Ontario are “some of the toughest in the world” and “the best in North America.”

Contrary to these claims, there are a multitude of townships and counties in the United States, other areas of Canada and various countries around the world, whose setbacks regulations and wind ordinances are clearly stricter than those in place in Ontario. I believe that Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Bradley are intentionally trying to mislead and deceive the people of Ontario.

Their statements are simply not true.  I feel it is vitally important that the residents of Ontario are aware of this.  It is a clear indication that the government’s concerns are for the wind company’s profits, and not the safety and well-being of the residents of this province.

There are many more ordinances that have setbacks listed from neighboring property lines that are far stricter than Ontario’s regulation of turbine height, less the blade length. There are also several international regulations that have further setbacks.

Obviously, these countries place the safety of their citizens paramount to the profit of the wind companies.  Some countries are enacting setbacks as far as 2 kms from people’s homes due to emerging studies indicating that there are, in fact, health, noise and safety issues associated with turbines.

Another area of serious concern is the exemption from setbacks for homes located on the properties that participate in the wind turbine project. These homes are not subject to the minimum 550m distance from turbines and are often in much closer proximity. Children, the elderly and pregnant women living in these homes are exposed, each and every day, to much higher levels of noise and vibration emanating from the turbines.

To my knowledge, the Ontario government has never conducted any studies on the short or long term effect that this will have on these vulnerable family members who are being exposed to noise levels far in excess of the regulations.  Why is there no law that requires that the children or other family members living in these homes be protected?  Are the children in these homes acceptable collateral damage?

Only the Ontario government can answer as to why they have clearly chosen to violate the rights of these children and family members, and not protect them in any way.

The simple truth is that Ontario’s regulated distances from industrial wind turbines are woefully inadequate and sub par to many other jurisdictions, and fail to address the issues of health and safety for the nearby residents.

The issues facing the rural residents of Ontario are far from being properly addressed or resolved.  Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health did not conduct evidence-based scientific research, when they concluded that there is no “direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”

Not one part of the CMOH Report from May 2010 reviews the present-day experiences of those in the municipalities in Ontario who have dealt with the impacts of sound from existing wind turbines.  Many other international studies have concluded the opposite findings to the CMOH and outline the impacts wind turbine sound has on people further than Ontario’s regulated setbacks, not to mention the impact turbines have on property values, along with shadow flicker and visual pollution.

I think the time is well overdue that the deception and dishonesty of the Ontario government with respect to industrial wind turbines be exposed and that the people of Ontario learn the truth about the inadequate regulations that are seriously affecting the rural citizens of this province and their livelihoods.

Trish Crang
Singhampton, Ont.

15 thoughts on “Ontario’s setback distances don’t address impacts from wind turbines

  1. Thanks Trish.
    Keep writing letters to the newspapers everyone!
    Keep writing to your MP’s and your MPP’s too. Don’t think they are a waste of time because they aren’t.

    • Keep all written correspondence. This will provide great sources of information for historians in the future when this whole ugly mess will be recorded for the ages.

  2. Can someone try and get Christine Blizzard from the Toronto Sun come to area’s like Ripley, Lambton County to talk to people that are directly effected with the distances of the wind turbines so it can be printed in the TORONTO SUN, so people in Toronto can read about this. It is very apparent the TV stations block this. I listen to Global Toronto. CTV Toronto , City Toronto, and the CBC Toronto (CBC is a Liberal station as is the Toronto Star Paper a Liberal Paper) and they
    very rarely talk or print anything about the problems in rural Ontario. Even when the protest took place on April 3rd I could find nothing on any of the news stations reporting it.
    There is so much propanganda put out by the MvGuinty government about how great it is to harness the wind that the ordinary person does not hear about any of the horrible things happening in rural Ontario.

  3. Barb Ashbee stated that Dr. Arlene King did not interview one victim, when she signed off on the literature review . Our Chief Medical Officer of Health who garnered a salary of $337,028.41 last year —– data from the Sunshine list —–. Should we not expect better job performance from a person in a position of public trust ?

  4. Nicely said, Trish!

    It would be a great help to me in convincing my acquaintances that our ON setback of 550m is inadeqate, and certainly not the best in North America. I would appreciate it if you would reply with some of the website links you’ve uncovered which support your position.

    Thanks!

  5. Hi Jimmy and Frances,

    The Ontario Wind Resistance Web Site Administrator has put a lot of setback info right here on this site. If you look at the top just to the right of the home button you will see a Setbacks Button. Lots of good info right there.

    • Thanks, David. I must admit I was unaware of the new OWR “Setbacks” tab. Thanks, too, to Frances for mentioning it. Plenty of ammunition in there!

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  6. This is what your government has promised you:
    http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/ministry_reports/wind_turbine/wind_turbine.pdf
    3.1 Setbacks
    Provincial setbacks were established to protect Ontarians from potential health and safety hazards of wind turbines including noise and structural hazards.
    The minimum setback for a wind turbine is 550 metres from a receptor. The setbacks rise with the
    number of turbines and the sound level rating of the selected turbines. For example, a wind project with five turbines, each with a sound power level of 107dB, must have its turbines setback at a minimum 950 metres from the nearest receptor.
    These setbacks are based on modelling of sound produced by wind turbines and are intended to limit sound at the nearest residence to no more than 40 dB.

  7. Take a look at a topo map of Ontario and see the average distance between concession roads in the country. The midway point between these roads is where this 550 metre setback came from.

    • Yes, people do need to know how most of the land was laid out in Ontario with 200 acre oblong plots back to back plus road right-of-ways 66 feet wide. This made for 1 & 1/4 miles between the concessions or 2 kms. Half of this is ~ 550 meters including the road width. You can see this on some of the maps in the map section.
      The lots are deeper than they are wide so most of the property rights infringement issues stem form the width of the lots and not from the depth of the lots. At least as things are now.

      • In the States where much of the land is laid out in 160 acre square lots you can put a ~ 300 meter turbine in the center of the lot and not infringe on neighbours property rights. In Ontatio now with many rectangular 80 & 100 acre plots this won’t work.

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