Clearview Township council has supported the recommendations of its planner urging the province not to approve a wind turbine project.
On Monday night council voted 7 – 2 in favour of the report drafted by Michael Wynia, director of planning and development, in response to the proposal by WPD Canada Corp. to build eight wind turbines in an area east of Duntroon. The report raised concerns about potential health risks, noise levels, the close proximity to the Colling – wood Airport, threats to migratory bird s, and unknown impacts the turbines may have on ground-level climates.
The report also recommended the Ministry of Environment not grant approvals until the results of a Health Canada study of the relationship between wind turbines and potential health effects.
“When I first heard the windmills were going up in our region I thought it would be a positive step, ” said Kari Reynolds, whose home would be close to five windmills. “I am absolutely in favour o f alternative power sources. I am old enough to remember the days when small was beautiful was the mantra for alternative technologies.” Today, I am horrified to see how this simple and true concept has been tossed aside. A lovely idea, wind power, has been bastardized into mega projects.”
Ward One Councillor Doug Measures, who is Clearview Township representative on the Collingwood Regional Airport board, said the wind turbines could be a safety hazard for the airport, which he said has more than 10,000 movements a year, and is used by air ambulances, the OPP, and the coastguard.
The safety of the airport is critical in my mind,” he said. “I’m really happy to see the airport has voiced their concern, very clear concern, about the plans that WPD have proposed.”
Ward Four Councillor Thom Paterson said he is unsure if the municipality will financially benefit from the wind turbines.”I have never been clear on what benefit our community gets on this short and long- term,” he said.” There should be an appropriate compensation to this municipality for the magnitude of these projects.”
“As a farmer, and I can say that with a lot of pride, I do believe in the rights of farmers and landowners, period. I have said that right from the get- go and I won’t stray from that,” said Mayor Ken Ferguson who voted in favour of the report. “Personally I don’t think I would put one on my own farm.”
Deputy- mayor Alicia Savage and Ward Seven Councillor Shawn Davidson voted against the planner’s recommendations.
“The bottom line for me is that there are no insurmountable arguments around green energy,” said Savage. “I cannot say I support it in principle and then find ways to oppose it simply because I don’t want it here … If we were truly concerned for our environment for our air quality, for the exhaustion of natural resources, for our neverending thirst for fossil fuels, then we have to do something, sometime, somewhere.”
Many community members in attendance were pleased with the outcome of the meeting. Kevin Elwood, whose land is close to the proposed projects, said he thought the meeting had positive results.
“The municipal council ( Monday) showed that there is still opportunity to speak out to the province so that we can be heard as a community and tell them that it is not a democratic project and for all the risks and reasons that were presented and debated ( Monday) shows that it is a project with many, many risks,” he said.
Elwood is concerned for the potential decrease in his property value, for the risks it might cause to flying his plane on his Transport Canada- recognized aerodrome, and for only being 0.8 decibels below the acceptable level of 40 decibels.
“WPD has yet to come console me or offer ways or suggest that if there is a problem with noise that they would mitigate it,” he said.
Elwood has also filed suit against WPD and the Beattie family — whose land would host the windmills — citing that the proposed locations of the turbines would make use of his airstrip unsafe.
Elwood says one of the proposed turbine locations is in the direct path of his airstrip.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
A second lawsuit against the company and the landowner alleges the proposal has negatively affected property values.WPD said in a press release before the council meeting that the study is not a reason to wait on the results because it will not be definitive and a lot of the recommendations or conditions in the report are already in place.
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