At a time when Ontario Power Authority and the European Union are of one mind on the need for wind generation, most council candidates in East Garafraxa have professed a virtual lack of knowledge about turbines.
Among other things, wind farms, along with amalgamation, library service, derelict vehicles and abandoned farm buildings, formed a prominent topic as about 40 township residents attended last Thursday night’s all-candidates meeting, sponsored jointly by Dufferin Federation of Agriculture and Greater Dufferin Area Chamber of Commerce, in the Marsville community hall.
Incumbent deputy mayor Allen Taylor, now acclaimed as mayor for the coming four-year term, told the meeting that the township’s Official Plan has no provision for “windmills.” He led the responses on wind farms by saying companies approached the council “like carpet-baggers” and then disappeared until they came back asking for something or other.
He did cite a noise problem that’s being dealt with at the Canadian Hydro Developers substation in Amaranth, but otherwise indicated support for wind generation, provided that locations and setbacks are satisfactory.
The mayor-designate defined “the right place” as, “you have to be careful about setbacks from property lines and roads.”
Candidate Al Boynton said there are “a lot of risks” involved, but didn’t specify except to raise the novel spectre of a tower falling over. “What happens if one falls on a neighbour’s property?” he said.
Incumbent Tom Nevills was “not a big fan” of wind turbines, and described them as “overblown.” He said he might prefer to see them in a straight line rather than in clusters (an aerodynamic problem in siting).
Myrna Roberts, who’s now a councillor in East Luther Grand Valley, said she would have to declare a conflict of interest as she has a lease agreement with a wind energy provider. But, “I want a safe, healthy environment.”
In the question period, a resident of a township subdivision asked about a small turbine at his home. Mr. Taylor and acclaimed deputy mayor Guy Gardhouse noted anew that there is no Official Plan provision for “windmills,” and said in any event they would still be subject to several bylaws.
Incumbents Fran Pinkney and Mr. Nevills preferred individual towers to wind farms. “I would look at it,” said Ms. Pinkney. Ms. Roberts was “still rooting for the big guys.”
East Garafraxa is a small township with land Orangeville probably covets, and property that has attracted speculators. Those facts led to discussions of amalgamation, annexation, abandoned farm buildings, and derelict vehicles.
On annexation, Mr. Gardhouse said Orangeville already has a servicing problem. Mr. Taylor said the council has “no intention of committing suicide” by allowing annexation of large or developed tracts of the township. Ms. Pinkney said Greenbelt legislation enters the equation. Mr. Nevills was not in favour of “Orangeville taking over,” and Ms. Roberts said annexation “is not viable at this moment.”
No one favoured a single tier Dufferin. Mr. Taylor recalled that “six years ago we had to decide whether it would be Dufferin’s way or the province’s.”
Mr. Gardhouse said there would be no cost savings with amalgamation. Ms. Pinkney was opposed; Mr. Boynton
totally against;” Mr. Nevills had “no interest in amalgamation.”
One resident said there is one unsightly property that has “an empty house and eight abandoned vehicles.”
The vehicles, said Mr. Taylor, might be a risk to environmental safety. He said a property standards bylaw has been proposed, but it’s a “hopelessly expensive process (to enforce and collect).” Mr. Nevills said such a bylaw would be nice, “but we’re already regulated to death.” Ms. Pinkney agreed with the “difficulty of enforcement.” Ms. Roberts said it would be “nice to be able to ensure that all parts of the township are beautiful.”
A resident said traffic on A Line speeds “faster than I fly my airplane.” This led to a discussion of police presence at appropriate hours, and a question of whether or not the OPP is living up to its contract with the township. Ms. Roberts said the Dufferin detachment is “down three (officers) because of Caledonia. I hope we get them back soon.”
By Wes Keller, Freelance Reporter
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