Bonnechere Valley Township Calls for Moratorium
BV TOWNSHIP adds it’s name to “Councils with Backbone”!
Wind energy generation is a useful and potentially environmentally friendly method of augmenting our growing energy needs. At present, many municipalities across Ontario and the rest of Canada are considering numerous approvals for projects to harness this energy source. These projects are being undertaken mostly on private lands that cover terrains ranging from flat farmlands to mountains with heavy forest cover. Each application is being considered on a case-by-case basis with engineering and environmental reports being commissioned before decisions are made. However, the technical nature of the information in these reports is frequently beyond the ability of most municipal staff to comprehend in any meaningful way; therefore, we rely upon reviews by different engineers for interpretation. Even these reviewers do not have sufficient resources to undertake more than a casual review of the technical data and are unable to do much more than fact check the data. Some of the issues of greatest concern to the public, such as noise, economic impact and possible medical side effects, are little understood by the engineers as well as municipal councils and staffs, even after these reports and peer reviews are presented. Our tendency is be dismissive of challenges to findings that show noise levels to be within Ministry of Environment guidelines. Supposed medical concerns are generally dismissed outright. This could be a costly mistake.
There is a growing body of concern around the world that there is a need for a more comprehensive study of the reported incidents of apparent adverse health reactions due to prolonged exposure to the environmental alterations caused by industrial wind generation projects. It is beyond the expertise of municipalities and the resources available to them to undertake any meaningful studies in this area. Additionally, it would be wasteful in terms of time, money and resources to study this issue on a project-by-project basis. The provincial and federal levels of government in conjunction with the international community need to determine the nature of these health concerns through scientific study in order to create guidelines for safe setback distances from residential and other sensitive occupancies.
Furthermore, there is concern that while there may be economic advantages to a community hosting industrial wind developments, there are also potential economic losses to tourism and to the property values of those living in proximity to them. There has been little study of the true economic impact of wind farms on the host community other than opinion surveys and one outdated real estate study conducted in 2003 by wind energy proponents. Given the growth of wind energy installations since that time there should be ample, verifiable data to create realistic, unbiased studies that could reasonably forecast the economic pluses and minuses of industrial wind development. There is a role here for both the provincial and federal governments that is not currently being fulfilled.
Current policies allow industrial turbines to be installed in almost any location a municipality deems appropriate. Much of the public opposition to wind energy projects is rooted in a lack of apparent scientific information supporting current setbacks from dwellings and non-participating landowners. Added to this is a growing body of anecdotal evidence and small-scale medical studies that seem to demonstrate that the current provincial setback guidelines may be putting people at risk.
For these reasons we, the Council of the Township of Bonneceher Valley, put forward the following resolution:
WHEREAS, the production of energy from industrial wind turbines is an initiative generally supported by the public and governments through tax and other monetary incentives; and
WHEREAS, theses projects are being considered in areas which normally do not allow the intermingling of industrial and other land usages; and
WHEREAS, these projects are expensive investments and by their nature, difficult to relocate should unforeseen problems develop; and
WHEREAS, these projects, once commissioned, are subject to site control at the local level; and
WHEREAS, the local level of government does not have the resources, expertise or time to properly determine the validity of the health, economic and other concerns being raised by concerned members of their community
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Province of Ontario be requested to impose a moratorium on all industrial wind turbine projects currently being considered until such time as the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Tourism have time to review new medical, economic and environmental studies relating to industrial wind turbine development and undertake any additional studies or reviews necessary to create realistic guidelines to assure the health and economic well being of those living in proximity to industrial wind turbine developments.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we respectfully request the Province of Ontario to work in conjunction with federal ministries to provide the people of Ontario and Canada reasonable assurances that government guidelines and regulations for the wind power generation industry are the result of well researched, unbiased studies and can be relied upon to properly locate these developments in their communities without fear of adverse effect on their health or way of life.
AND FURTHER that this resolution be circulated to the Minister of the Environment, Minister of Health, Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Tourism, The Association of Municipalities of Ontario, all municipalities in Ontario, John Yakubuski, MPP and Cheryl Gallant, MP.
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