On the eve of wpd Canada’s second public meeting regarding its proposed Fairview Wind Farm (which unfortunately took place after the Echo went to press), Clearview Township’s planning department released its long-awaited report on the subject, boldly recommending that Council take a stand against the project.
The report, which asserts that Council should “declare that it does not support the construction of the wpd Fairview Wind Farm project, and request that the Province of Ontario not issue an approval for this project,” will be officially debated by Council at its August 13 meeting; it was released early, according to the Township website, to “facilitate ongoing review and input to the wpd Fairview Wind proposal.”
Besides recommending non-support for the project, the report also suggests several policy initiatives that could prevent further wind developments in the municipality.
Firstly, it recommends that the Township seek heritage landscape designation under the Ontario Heritage Act for the “viewscape looking from the Niagara Escarpment corridor along the westerly portion of the municipality toward the town of Stayner and out to Nottawasaga Bay,” suggesting that it is of “paramount importance to the character and allure of the Township to residents and visitors alike.”
Secondly, it asks for direction to enact a Nuisance Bylaw under the Municipal Act to deal with “the potential nuisance and annoyance impacts of wind turbines, as well as other developments that may create similar nuisance.”
Thirdly, the report suggests that Council urge the Collingwood Regional Airport Committee to request federal aerodrome zoning for its facility.
And finally, it recommends that Council petition the Province for a moratorium on all wind development until the results of the recently announced federal health study are known.
While the report asserts that Township staff are entirely in support of green energy options, it states there is too much uncertainty around all aspects of wind energy development for it to be in support of the wpd proposal.
Specifically, it cites uncertainty around threats to human health and to the unburdened enjoyment of real property; threats to local and migratory bird and bat populations; the unknown impacts that the turbines may have on ground-level climates; and threats that the turbines pose to the economic vitality and social appeal for the Township’s businesses, residents, and visitors.
It also expressed concern about whether the “overall efficiency of a wind project can justify its impact” on a community, and that, “compared to other types of industrial uses, contributions back to the community are meager.”
Should Council adopt the recommendations put forth in the report, they would be part of their formal response to wpd’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) application. It’s well-known, however, that the province’s Green Energy Act does not give municipalities much say when it comes to REAs. Reflecting that, the report also provides a list of conditions the Township could request should the REA be granted.
Most of the conditions pertain to things like building permits and zoning. Three are notable, however: first, that a decommissioning security for each of wpd’s eight turbines be provided to the Township; second, that “since the construction of the Fairview Wind Project will disable the Township’s ability to recognize and market its cultural heritage viewscape, the proponent shall provide funding to the Township in support of the Clearview Heritage Conservation Program and its various future projects”; and third, that “the proponent set out a municipal compensation package and/or local economic participation program that reflects an appropriate contribution to the local economy in light of the scale and range of impacts of the proposal beyond the limited construction and decommissioning periods of the project.”