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Plans for massive Kingsville windfarm on hold

KINGSVILLE – A bid to create Canada’s largest wind farm has hit a snag.

A tie vote Monday at Kingsville council defeated bylaws that would have allowed large-scale wind farms in rural areas in the town.

Mayor Nelson Santos, who voted in favour of the bylaw changes, said he was disappointed and surprised. He expects the applicant, Brookfield Power, to appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

We basically gave the decision (on whether to allow large wind farms) to the OMB,” Santos remarked Tuesday.

Brookfield Power is proposing 151 wind turbines in Kingsville and Lakeshore. If successful in its applications, the company has said it would build Canada’s largest wind farm and construction could start in 2009.

In early December, Kingsville council held a public meeting on changing its official plan and zoning bylaws to allow large-scale wind farms and to create a wind farm zone. In a 3 – 2 vote, council recommended the changes but the decision wasn’t to be finalized until late Monday night, when council voted on the specific bylaws. Then, the vote went 3 – 3, and a tied vote defeats a motion.

The tie was possible because this time all seven council members were present. However, the seventh vote wasn’t cast because Coun. Brad Stevenson declared a conflict of interest because he has a lease with the wind power company.

Santos said some members of council wanted to wait to see the pending county policies on renewable energy. But the next public meeting on those policies could be in February and any changes Kingsville makes to its official plan would need county approval in cany case, he said.

Council had to make the decision based on the best planning information it had, Santos said. Kingsville was considering its own wind power policy because Brookfield Power had applied to the town to allow the large project in the north end of Kingsville.

“I was kind of surprised,” Santos said of the vote. “It really goes back against what the application was for.”

A spokesman for Brookfield Power couldn’t be reached Tuesday.

By Tuesday afternoon, the town had not received an indication from Brookfield on whether it will appeal to the OMB. Santos said the company can’t wait for the county policy.

In July, Lakeshore council called itself “progressive” when councillors unanimously voted to change its official plan and zoning bylaw to allow wind farms.

Some of Kingsville’s policies were to be similar to Lakeshore’s policies. Kingsville was considering a minimum setback of 600 metres for turbines from a residential zone and wasn’t considering wind farms along the shoreline or near urban areas.

Councillors Gord Queen, Tamara Stomp and Chris Lewis voted against the bylaws that would have created a policy for large wind projects.

Queen said wanted to table the bylaws but was ruled out of order because he had made a similar motion to defer at the last meeting. Queen said he was concerned about having a large enough buffer zone around the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary to protect migrating birds.

“I wanted to see what the county came up with,” he said. “Why do this twice?”

By Sharon Hill

The Windsor Star

18 December 2007