The New Year is a time of resolutions made and resolutions broken. This is human nature, a part of the eternal struggle of willpower versus whimsy, and most of us are well used to the reality that some good intentions get left behind on the road of life.
Still, few resolutions have been so short-lived as the one passed at the Jan. 6 meeting of Bonnechere Valley Township council and rescinded at a second, hastily convened meeting less than three days later. Each time, the vote was 4-1.
As resolutions go, township Councillor Bob Peltzer’s was fairly innocuous. It called upon the Province of Ontario to impose a moratorium on the construction of industrial wind turbines until such a time as provincial, federal and scientific authorities have assessed whether health concerns that have been associated with prolonged exposure to wind turbine operations can be assessed and proved or disproved. As Peltzer’s resolution pointed out, the resources and expertise required to do this sort of review are beyond the scope of municipal governments.
Peltzer also said that environmental surveys and even the more rigorous environmental assessments generally don’t assess a project’s impact on human health. He says he wants guidelines drawn up “on the basis of good, well-founded science,” adding that this should come from the levels of government that have the resources to assemble this information.
It should be noted that Peltzer is not against wind power. But he does see the way in which the issue is causing a rift in the community he serves – indeed, the anger was palpable on both sides of the issue at Friday’s meeting where Peltzer’s resolution was rescinded. He wants public concerns on the health issues addressed before it is too late to do so.
In any case, there are good reasons for a bit of prudence and little justification for haste on the wind turbine issue. In 2008, Ontario’s total electricity consumption fell by 2.3 per cent and our total coal-fired electricity generation – the bugbear that is driving much of the rush to green energy – fell by 18 per cent, according to statistics released this week by the Independent Electricity System Operator.
There is a place in Ontario for wind energy. Indeed, the province now leads Canada in wind power capacity, with over 700 megawatts-worth of installed wind turbines, and more on the way. It is the way that we fit them into the landscape that is the rub. It is not mere NIMBYism to argue that wind farms should be located so that they intrude as little as possible on our lives.
Posted By Douglas Gloin
Barry’s Bay This Week
14 January 2009
Passed on Tuesday, motion rescinded on Friday
The Township of Bonnechere Valley voted on Tuesday in favour of a resolution that asked the provincial government to impose a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines, and then reversed itself on Friday afternoon by voting to rescind that resolution.
The first vote by the five-member council approved Councillor Bob Peltzer’s resolution four to one, with Mayor Zig Mintha casting the lone nay vote. Then, at a hastily convened and fully packed meeting early on Friday afternoon, council voted on a motion to rescind the resolution. Again, the vote was four to one in favour, with Peltzer voting against it. Councillors Merv Buckwald, Cairine Cybulski and Charlotte Neitzel reversed their initial support for the moratorium motion by voting in favour of rescinding it.
In between those two votes, there was a lot of debate on the wind farm issue, much of it laden with the emotion that has come to characterize this highly divisive issue. A series of wind turbines currently are proposed for the Bonnechere Valley, as are similar projects in many municipalities along the Opeongo Line.
Peltzer defended his resolution at Friday’s meeting, saying he was hoping through it to encourage the provincial government, in conjunction with its federal counterpart, to take a good look at the data relating in particular to concerns about health problems due to prolonged exposure to operating wind turbines. Peltzer said health is not an issue that is usually dealt with in environmental assessments and studies.
The Ward Three councillor stressed that he is not opposed to wind turbines. Indeed, his motion called wind energy “a useful and potentially environmentally friendly method of augmenting our growing energy needs.”
But Peltzer said the technical data in reports on wind turbine impacts is frequently beyond the expertise of municipal staff, and he wants the Ontario government to show leadership in examining the both sides of the issue and in coming up with realistic guidelines on siting turbines, dealing with any health effects and other issues.
“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,” the motion said.
“Our tendency is to 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.”
But the Tuesday vote in favour of the resolution caused a storm of protest in the township. About 35 people, many of them landowners on whose properties the wind turbines are to be sited, as well as wind turbine opponents, crammed themselves into the township’s tiny chambers.
Mayor Zig Mintha told the gathering that not all parties in the wind turbine controversy were at the council meeting when the resolution was passed, and that they should have had an opportunity to have their say.
“I thought that this should have gone through committee before we touched it with a 10-foot pole,” Mintha said. “What about the landowner? What about the other interested parties?”
Mintha said he had received many email messages from people upset at the measure.
“I just want to make sure that I’m fair to everyone – the people who were not represented here could not speak.”
Ward One Councillor Charlotte Neitzel, who voted in favour of Peltzer’s resolution, told the Friday meeting that she should never have agreed to the resolution. She said that councillors were not provided with a paper copy of the text; it was only read aloud at the meeting before the vote. Therefore, she could not fully digest its contents.
“My brainpower tends to tire out” at long meetings, she added.
Ward Four Councillor Cairine Cybulski also said she would have preferred to have had a paper copy because she usually likes to read resolutions line by line. She said that, at the time of the vote, “I felt I wanted to refrain from voting” and pointed out that she did suggest waiting before a vote was called on the resolution.
Cybulski said she was worried that the resolution might damage the township’s relationship with the provincial energy ministry, and suggested a motion to rescind the resolution and that council “talk about it and formulate it further.”
Ward Two councillor Merv Buckwald, who had seconded Peltzer’s resolution, conceded on Friday that he had “had a little problem with the statement ‘impose a moratorium’.” He then unleashed an attack on those people who had misinterpreted the nature of the resolution and who alleged that the township had passed a moratorium on wind turbines in Bonnechere Valley.
Peltzer defended his resolution.
“People of my constituency have been very concerned about this issue” and said that most such resolutions are tabled at council, not in committees, and that “there was quite a bit of debate” before the measure was passed.
“There was no attempt by me to railroad this issue through,” he said, pointing out that it was the mayor who called for a vote on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’m a little perplexed by the process here. Obviously folks have had a change of heart. … All I was asking for in that resolution was that the province tell us what is safe.” He called the resolution “a very benign thing” that dealt with the concerns of those opposed to wind turbines in the township.
“Because this is such a new project, Mr. Chairman, maybe a bit more study is needed. These things are probably going to be with us for the rest of our lives – it’s probably not a bad thing to be a little bit cautious about it.”
In a telephone interview this week, Peltzer said he hadn’t had time to make and distribute copies of the resolution to fellow councillors before the meeting and that’s why he read it out to them.
Cybulski proposed the motion to rescind the resolution. It was seconded by Buckwald. After it passed, Peltzer said he still feels that the province must involve itself in the assessing the impact of wind turbines.
“What we have chosen to do is remain silent,” he told the meeting. “We still haven’t let any of the people here know in any formal way whether we’re going to take this matter beyond the Environmental Assessment. I thought we were showing a bit of leadership on this… I still think that was the way to go.”
Mintha, however, promised that there would be a public meeting on the wind power issue.
Peltzer also lamented the bad blood that has surfaced among township residents over the turbines.
“This issue is becoming I think a very divisive issue,” he said. “I hear very strong and hateful comments coming on both sides of the issue. … Let’s respect each other, and focus this debate on the issue.”
He then read a letter from constituent Nelda Markham of Lake Clear, who said she is worried about the divisions cropping up in the township over the issue. “This debate is alienating not just siblings but friends and neighbours as well,” Markham wrote. A full text of her letter appears on page nine of this issue.
By Douglas Gloin
Barry’s Bay This Week
14 January 2009
Compromise seems to be the order of the day on wind farm issue
Editor’s note: A few days ago, Lake Clear resident Nelda Markham sent the following letter to Mayor Zig Mintha and other members of Bonnechere ValleyTownship Council. Like many communities along the Opeongo Line, Bonnechere Valley is considering applications to erect a series of industrial wind turbine farms. Ms Markham gave Barry’s Bay This Week permission to publish the letter.
Dear Mayor Mintha,
As I have been watching the language and level of the windmill debate unfold, I have been increasingly concerned about the long lasting effects on this community. This debate is alienating not only siblings, but neighbours and friends as well. Rancorous comments such as “woman who went away, came back, telling us what to do makes me want to puke”—“has only lived here 20 years—has no right to an opinion”—“hippies smoking marijuana telling us what to do”—“cottage tree-huggers.” Are comments such as these really productive or conducive to building an inclusive society?
Stereotypes are dangerous at the best of times, but we, as a community really need to look at the concerns of all taxpayers as equal voices. Perhaps some people need to understand that many, if not most of the 300 property owners on Lake Clear are just not weekend visitors but people who live on the lake year round, pay taxes year round and contribute to this community in many and various ways. Many of the property owners on Lake Clear live on generational property or have connections to the history and settlers of the Opeongo. They also value the history and hardship of this area. Their opinions of what they see as the future potential of this area should have an equal vote and place at the same table as the landowners who want wind turbines on their own property. Yes, anyone is entitled to do whatever they want with their own property as long as it doesn’t impact negatively on their neighbour’s property. That’s why we have bylaws preventing anyone from stockpiling junked cars on their front lawn etc. Just as one can’t let one’s cows relieve themselves in the creek that runs through a neighbour’s property, so do we need to really look at the impact of what one does on one’s neighbour.
Just as maybe Kirkland Lake mine shafts weren’t the answer for Toronto’s garbage (despite the support of many in that town that supported the economic boom it would bring), perhaps the answer for Toronto’s energy woes are not in the Opeongo Hills. Perhaps industrial installations belong in heavy industrial areas where they are truly welcomed by all.
I understand that the provincial government is very keen to “look green” and is moving full speed ahead on these projects, but as the public is becoming more and more aware of “greenwashing” they will harshly judge politicians who have not done due diligence on these projects and questions will be asked as to who is really profiting or losing from these ventures. History will judge these decisions made in haste.
Compromise would seem to be the order of the day. Is there a lack of objectivity in the proponent-driven self-assessment process? Like taxpayers in other communities are asking – should we be subjecting our futures to a broken process?
Barry’s Bay This Week
14 January 2009
Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards asks province to impose moratorium on wind turbine projects
The reading of a resolution at a special meeting in the council chambers of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Township prompted applause from the large audience in attendance last week. The resolution requests the Province of Ontario to impose a 10-year moratorium on all industrial wind turbine projects under consideration until new medical, economic and environmental studies are reviewed; it also resolved that local municipalities retain the authority to control and direct industrial wind turbine development in their individual municipalities.
Council arranged the public meeting after receiving Notice of Applications – to amend the County of Renfrew Official Plan to allow wind energy farms on subject lands – from the municipalities of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan and Madawaska Valley.
“This is a very controversial issue,” said Mayor Janice Visneskie in her opening remarks.
Over the past year, the township has received a wealth of information for and against wind projects.
“We have made it our goal to get all sides of the issue,” she said.
Council has instructed the roads committee, headed by Carl Kuehl, to review the municipality’s roads bylaw to see what can be done to tighten weight load conditions without harming all businesses that use the roads.
“There are no wind farms proposed for K, H and R, but they may have to use our roads,” said Visneskie. “We have to do something to ensure our roads are not damaged.”
Lou Eyamie, president of S.O.S. (Save Our Skylines) told council he understood that a transformer would be located in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards. This was news to council.
“We have not heard about a transformer in K, H and R,” said Visneskie.
Nelson Coulas told council he’d heard of a lawsuit in the Kingston area over the effects of a transformer located near a man’s property. Brian Tyrrell told the story of a man living next to a transformer who had his property assessment reduced 50 per cent by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
“He’s planning to go back to MPAC and see if he can get it knocked down to zero,” Tyrrell added, which prompted Councillor Carl Kuehl to respond jokingly, “Don’t say that – everyone will want a transformer next door to get a zero assessment.”
Local resident Garnet Kranz, who has property in Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, expressed concern over the “stroboscopic effect” that generators situated within a half-kilometre of the 16th Concession would have along the road.
Councillor Kathy Marion wanted to know what financial benefit municipalities receive from wind projects. Visneskie told her that, on a council-sanctioned trip to visit wind projects in Sault Ste. Marie and Shelburne, she spoke with the reeve of Prince Township (just outside the Soo), and was told the township “got a good deal. The reeve said he would welcome even more turbines.” She said she’d heard that the municipality at Shelburne also received an economic benefit.
“Municipalities are facing tough times, but they don’t want to raise taxes,” she said. “So I can see why municipalities are looking at this.”
Visneskie said she was told that all power generated at the Prince Wind Farm goes to Toronto and not to the Soo; she was also told that if there is too much wind, the turbines have to be shut down.
“If they’re not reliable, why are we looking at this?” she said. She was told that the companies get green grants from the federal government; they also get green tax breaks and are allowed to “sell” their Kyoto points.
Tyrrell said a major polluter in the United States could buy the company, thereby getting the carbon offsets.
“Ontario gets to look green and we get all the disadvantages,” he said.
Discussion turned to moratoriums. Marion expressed concern about the financial stability of wind turbine companies, but was not sure a moratorium was the way to go. Councillor Ernie Cybulski was afraid a 10-year moratorium would not be long enough. He referred to the Blue Box program, stating the province was behind it at first, “but then they said ‘Oops we want out.’ It’s the same with MTO (Ministry of Transport) – they used to look after all the highways then downloaded many of them. Will this happen with wind turbines down the road? Will we end up looking after them when they break down?”
Councillor Stanley Pecoskie brought up a 10-year moratorium recently passed by the Township of South Algonquin Council.
“Most of the land in question is Crown land, so will the moratorium mean anything? A moratorium may work for part of our municipality, but about 93 per cent of Richards township is Crown land and we wouldn’t have a say on it.”
Visneskie said council could “object, and deny, but they have the right to go to an OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) hearing and we could lose. I don’t want anyone to think this council has the capability to shut them down. We can put roadblocks in place, but it’s up to the taxpayers to be vocal.”
At this point in the meeting, councillors agreed to write up a motion. Following a break to allow Councillor Debbie Peplinskie and CAO/Clerk Lorna Hudder time to write the document, Visneskie read the resolution aloud. When she finished, her words were met with loud applause.
Nelson Coulas, who has property close to one of the proposed projects, said he was born in Killaloe.
“This council makes me proud of the direction it’s heading in trying to keep everyone safe. I’m proud to come from Killaloe. I have faith that Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan will do the right thing too.”
Visneskie introduced the motion to council and it was passed in a unanimous, recorded vote. The township will send a copy of the resolution to Madawaska Valley and Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan along with a covering letter explaining its decision. Visneskie thanked the councillors for “being proactive, open and for making solid decisions. They took the time to carefully look at this issue. Congrats to Debbie and Lorna for drafting the motion. Well done.”
By Heather Kendall
Barry’s Bay This Week
14 January 2009
Ontario eyes speeding up wind turbine approvals; Green proposals would limit municipal powers
A draft provincial government proposal to “streamline” the approval of green energy projects such as industrial wind turbines would effectively strip Ontario’s municipal governments of much of their power to decide whether they want such facilities to be established in their communities.
The document, a first draft of a proposed new Green Energy Act for Ontario, is dated Dec. 10, 2008. Its full title is a bit of a mouthful: “A Proposal for An Act Granting Priority to Renewable Energy Sources to Manage Global Climate Change, Protect the Environment and Streamline Project Approvals.”
It’s the “Streamline Project Approvals” part of the title that will be of the most interest to residents of this region, where a series of proposed wind farm projects in the Townships of Madawaska Valley, South Algonquin, Bonnechere Valley and elsewhere are now before municipal councils.
The document surfaces as proposed industrial wind turbine operations are meeting with resistance in several communities across the province. Last fall, the council of the Township of South Algonquin voted to impose a 10-year moratorium on the approval of any wind farm proposals. RES Canada Inc. wants to build between 40 and 60 such turbines in the township on Crown land just outside the south-eastern edge of Algonquin Provincial Park. The plans are strongly opposed by many year-round and seasonal residents. Plans by the SkyPower company for six turbines on the hills north of Wilno are also running into well-organized opposition. Farther afield, the town council of Essex, near Windsor, is considering a ban on such projects until all health questions and other concerns raised by residents are clearly answered by the province.
Ontario Energy Minister George Smitherman, who has a reputation for being both outspoken and confrontational, has made it clear that he is frustrated at public opposition to wind energy projects, which are a big part of his government’s Green Energy Act plans. Last fall, after South Algonquin imposed a moratorium on wind turbines, he sent a letter to Barry’s Bay This Week outlining his “disappointment” at council’s move.
In its preamble, the draft provincial document says “Ontario is a world leader in the effort to arrest global climate change and the protection of greenspace.” The paper then lays out the many benefits to the environment of green energy, and outlines plans to “make Ontario a global leader in the development of renewable energy, clean distributed energy and conservation.”
Scattered throughout the 10-page draft are references to “streamlining” the approval process for green energy projects. But it is near the end of the document, in a section obliquely titled “Protecting the Environment,” where the reader gets some idea of just what streamlining measures are being proposed. The document urges amending the Environmental Assessment Act and the Planning Act by making the following changes:
• Implementing what the document calls a “one project, one process” approach that would do away with requirements that green energy projects obtain approval under the Planning Act. It also favours doing away with any Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings into new or existing projects if they “have already been approved (or exempted) under the Environmental Assessment Act.” The OMB is widely considered to be the final avenue of appeal for disputes over municipal government actions.
• The government, by way of Orders in Council signed by the Lieutenant Governor, should make regulations that set down “clear, prescriptive provincial standards for the siting of green energy projects (e.g. “no go” areas, setback requirements, etc.) and that determine areas in need of protection.”
The document goes on to say that those restrictions “should be technology specific and based on legitimate and peer-reviewed scientific data.” This would appear to rule out objections based on whether or not a project is appropriate for an area. For example, many opponents of the South Algonquin wind farm proposal object to the plans because the wind turbines would be located near Whitney beside the border with Algonquin Park, the province’s largest provincial park and a national treasure in the eyes of many Canadians.
• The act should“streamline” environmental assessments and use “class environmental assessments” wherever possible. The class assessment sets down the planning process through which the environmental impact and benefits of projects are considered. Such a move would appear to limit the scope of individual assessment of the environmental impact of a particular project at a particular site.
• “Streamline” and co-ordinate the planning and building permit process for green energy projects.
The document goes on to recommend other measures to speed up the Environmental Assessment approval process for green energy projects. It urges “adjusting project categories or thresholds under approved class environmental assessments “so that a greater number of renewable energy projects are fully exempt under the EA Act (but they must still obtain other federal or provincial approvals where applicable).”
It also calls for shorter time frames, giving six months as an example, and clearer deadlines for the completion of the planning/review process under approved class environmental assessments.
The draft document does contain some recommended restrictions on the location of green energy projects. For example, it says that such projects “should not be located in, or cause adverse impacts upon,” critical habitat of endangered or threatened species; provincially significant wetlands, valleys, woodlands or wildlife habitat; sites of cultural heritage or archaeological value; lands designated under legislation to protect the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine, and in provincial parks and reserves.
It also recommends amending the Environmental Assessment Act to enhance the requirements for public notice of green energy projects to ensure that all parties have adequate notice and an opportunity to participate in the process.
Wilno resident Carl Bromwich emailed copies of the draft provincial document to the Township of Madawaska Valley council this week. In his letter, Bromwich charged that the Ontario government is moving “to virtually eliminate the Environmental Assessment Process that is presently in place.”
“First Nations Groups will be afforded a front-row seat for any wind proposal, so that it appears the government is sensitive to this group of people,” Bromwich says. “Of course, the Ontario landowner outside this group will not have a seat.”
“I am just mailing this into municipal council to make sure there is a record of ‘what may be’ and offer up a suggestion that, as a municipal resident, I believe we should all stick together here and work together to make sure our local council retains the power to represent us, protect us and speak on our behalf during what may possibly be a tearing down of what few democratic rights we still have in this province.”
Lou Eyamie, president of Save Our Skyline, or SOS, a group opposed to wind turbine construction in the area, warned Madawaska Valley Councillors at Monday’s meeting that the draft proposal would, when implemented, mean that “you are going to lose your say on energy matters.
“I want to make sure that you know that they’re going to go all the way around you,” Eyamie said.
By Douglas Gloin
Barry’s Bay This Week
7 January 2009
Editors Note: If anyone questions that this “Draft” is just an attempt by the Wind Industry to force our Government to adopt their agenda then you must read the following comment that describe the actions surrounding this draft by David Suzuki and his meeting with our Minister of Energy George Smitherman. The moderator explains how involved our Minister is and how he is “looking forward” to adopting an Act such as this to further his agenda. After reading this there can be no doubt as to the intentions of our Provincial Government to virtually eliminate the “bottlenecks” in the approval process for future Wind Farm Development.
“Thursday, December 4th, 2008
I had the honour of moderating a discussion on Tuesday evening between
Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki and Ontario Energy and
Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman. The event, aimed at
promoting the creation of a Green Energy Act for Ontario, included a
free showing of The Suzuki Diaries (you can watch it in full online).
It’s an entertaining and insightful one-hour documentary that follows
the European travels of Suzuki and his daughter Sarika as they explore
the creative use of renewable-energy technologies in Germany, France,
Spain, and Denmark. In addition to the focus on renewables, there’s a
message in there about the need for parents to give their children
hope that we have the means today of changing the world for the
If you’re interested in learning about the Green Energy Act initiative
in Ontario, click here. Green Energy Act Draft The envisioned act would give renewables and
conservation priority in electricity system planning and grid access,
make advanced renewable energy tariffs the primary mechanism for
developing green energy in the province (as opposed to RFPs), aim to
support such projects with low-interest financing, promote development
of the smart grid, and stimulate community and First Nation projects,
all with a mind to creating green-collar jobs.
Environmental groups are introducing the envisioned act on Friday in
hopes the Ontario government will adopt parts or all of it. So far
Smitherman, who appears to have a genuine interest in raising the bar
on renewables and conservation, has indicated his support for such
legislation and is apparently making steps toward that goal. It will
be interesting to see how far the government does go, but if this
initiative ever does make its way into legislation it would make
Ontario THE hotspot for renewable energy development in North America.”………..
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.
By Neil Etienne
Staff Writer Eganville Leader
Eganville — Committee meetings are typically scantly attended public affairs, but Tuesday’s Finance and Administration meeting for Bonnechere Valley Township turned out to be the hottest seat in town as members of the local council received two wind tower site applications from SkyPower corporation of Toronto.
The first application received was for the Foymount area, a six-tower proposal that had come across BV CAO Bryan Martin’s desk earlier in the summer, but was almost immediately returned to the applicant because of vital missing information. Mr. Martin said although he still hasn’t had much of a chance to peruse the documents to know if all the previously missing pieces are there, new issues arising since will probably mean all the information isn’t there now either.
The second application is for the 33 to 34 tower proposal for the Hardwood Hills area, but this would be the first in a two-phase project which could see as many as 66 towers there.
“We are currently reviewing these applications for completeness,” Mr. Martin said, adding that may be hard to do right now. Mr. Martin explained that on one hand the province has identified wind power as a primary concern, however, the province also doesn’t want to allow development of certain tracts of land, such as those containing aggregates. He said while the applications are only a rudimentary form, they do identify potential tower locations near sensitive environmental lands or near aggregate fields.
“So the province needs to decide what policy they want to enforce,” he said, saying for example, people cannot build hunt camps on certain locations because they may harm the environment, “so does that mean you can’t build a wind tower there too, I don’t know; they’ll have to get back to me on that.” JP2G engineering consultant Brian Whitehead was at the meeting and explained he had penned a draft letter in response to SkyPower that would not yet identify the exact issues with the applications, but “as a first step” until council can determine exactly what is missing.
“It’s more procedural right now,” he said. “They’ve told us the EA (environmental assessment) for Foymount should be completed by the end of the year…for the other one, it’s more toward the end of October of next year before completion.” He said besides the missing EA, which for both is currently still in the works, “we have a fairly substantial list of issues,” pointing out that list comes off of only simple scans, as he has not yet had a chance to seriously delve into the paper work. “There is a list of issues here,” he said.
Council has 30 days to comment on the applications, but Mr. Whitehead said to not worry so much about that deadline, as there is little chance the applying company will have enough information to be able to fulfi ll council’s needs. He did warn that at the end of the 30 days, the applicant can apply for an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, forcing council to make a decision to proceed or not to proceed, but that the OMB hearing would likely require all the same information be present that council would need to make a decision.
“Sure they could go to the OMB if they wanted, but it wouldn’t serve much purpose that early in the process; the OMB is just going to ask for all the same information you’re asking for,” Mr. Martin said. Council, township staff and Mr. Whitehead will continue to look at the application in the coming weeks to determine if and where any lack of information may rest and will send a written response to the applicant identifying any issues with the goal to respond by the Nov. 28 deadline for the Hardwood Hills project and about a week later for the Foymount area project.