After the shine of the swearing-in ceremony had worn off, Huron East Councillors were ready to get to work at their Dec. 21 meeting, greeted by two delegations regarding wind turbines.
The first presentation was made by Central Huron Against Turbines (CHAT) member David Hemingway. Hemingway had attended the first-ever symposium to discuss the adverse health effects of wind turbines, which was held in late 2010 in Picton.
He took video of many of the presentations and wanted to share a couple of them with Huron East Council, specifically regarding low-frequency noise (LFN).
Each of the video presentations were approximately 30 minutes in length and Hemingway hoped they would help clarify what LFN is. He said that at the inter-council information meeting held late last year, there was a significant amount of confusion surrounding LFN and he felt the presentations could help.
Experts were brought into the symposium from all over North America to discuss the alleged adverse health effects associated with industrial wind turbines.
There were also presentations on the history of the wind turbine movement. One expert spoke to the turbine boom of the 2000s and how it was set up by actions in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hemingway, who is currently in the process of making a documentary on the subject with his son, has attended meetings regarding wind turbines all over the province.
He agrees that the answer to the “problem” of wind turbines isn’t a simple one, but he said that when 20 per cent of the population, when situated near industrial wind turbines can experience adverse health effects, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.
“It’s not a simple answer. It’s complex,” he said. “If you figure conservatively, in Goderich with a population of 8,000, 10 per cent, 800 people could be affected.”
Members of Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) also brought forth a delegation, reviewing the events that brought both the group, and council to its current point.
HEAT co-founder Gerry Ryan asked council to hold an informational meeting, in which an invitation is circulated to neighbouring municipalities. They could attend the meeting, possible options would be discussed and financial support would be considered.
Several councillors, however, were miffed at this request, as many of them noted, a meeting of that nature had already been held with several representatives attending, but no one coming forward with financial support for a provisional bylaw.
Ryan said he wanted the invitations to be sent out by Jan. 4, with a potential date to be set for February sometime.
This way, he said, councils would have two meetings in which they could decide if they want to send someone and/or contribute financially to the cause.
“When a bylaw is in place, we’ll believe that you’ve made an effort to protect Huron East residents,” Ryan said.
Only then, Ryan said, would the municipality be absolved of liability, after councillors had admitted, by acknowledging HEAT’s cause, that there are health effects that residents should be concerned about.
Several councillors, including Brussels councillor Joe Seili found this statement to be threatening, asking if HEAT was planning potential legal action against the municipality.
“So if other councils don’t buy in, HEAT’s going to sue council?” Seili asked. “Because that’s what I’m getting.”
Ryan said that there had been no discussion about a lawsuit and that he was not threatening any such thing. He said he was simply stating that if a Huron East resident felt that he/she wasn’t protected sufficiently by the municipality, that they could come back and sue.
“A ratepayer could come back to you and say you did nothing to protect their health and threaten a lawsuit,” he said.
Councillor Bill Siemon, who was elected to a second term as Huron East’s third representative at Huron County Council, said he would be bringing a wind turbine motion to Huron County Council at its Jan. 5 meeting.
Siemon’s motion called for Huron County Council to “establish a committee of lower tier and Huron County representatives and Huron County staff to investigate the effect and action that may be taken concerning low-frequency noise.”
Ryan, however, was not convinced.
“Things aren’t happening, even though you said they would,” he said. “You’re not representing us.”
Seili, however, said that was not the case. He said that all of the municipality’s ducks have to be in a row in order to enter into the legal defense of a bylaw, where taxpayer dollars could be at stake.
“I don’t care which two lawyers are in the room, but one will be for it and one will be against it, but everyone will pay,” Seili said. “And it’s the Huron East ratepayers who are going to have to pay.”
Councillor Les Falconer said that no action should be taken until the end of December. That was the deadline for other municipalities to commit financially to the floating of a bylaw to regulate LFN. At the time of the meeting, however, no one had expressed interest.
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