Norfolk’s elected officials put the developers of a proposed wind farm east of Port Dover on the hot seat last night, raising questions about the impact the turbines will have on the environment and the people who live nearby.
Simcoe Coun. Peter Black asked representatives of Capital Power, the Canadian company that wants to build a 58-turbine site that would straddle Norfolk and Haldimand counties, if they had consulted Bird Studies Canada about the impact the project would have on birds in the area.
“At this point, we’re not certain (if we’ve contacted them),” replied project manager Todd Josifovski.
“I suggest that you do,” Black shot back, explaining council had been told years ago BSC was consulted during the planning process for the wind farm at the other end of the county and later found out that wasn’t true.
Houghton Coun. Betty Chanyi pointed to a map showing the 13 turbines proposed for the Norfolk side and noted one was surrounded by woodlot.
“Is that a good spot for a turbine?” she asked.
Company officials said the woodlots have been examined for the type of wildlife they house and the turbines have been pushed far enough back “so there will be no blades sweeping overhead the woodlot.”
Councillors questioned company officials in a back and forth session, but ultimately they can do nothing to stop the project.
The province, the meeting was reminded, has taken over the approval process for green energy projects and has already given the initial OK for the one east of Port Dover.
Last May, council joined a number of town halls in Ontario in calling for a moratorium on the construction of any new wind farms given the growing wave of health complaints from residents who live near them – including residents next to the turbines in the Houghton area.
“It makes me wonder why we are even discussing this,” remarked Waterford Coun. Harold Sonnenberg, who was chairing last night’s council-in-committee meeting.
Councillors also objected to a staff report they were asked to vote on that said the county had “endorsed” a “municipal consultation form” related to the project.
In the end, elected officials agreed “to accept” the report from planning staff.
“We have to go through the process whether we want to or not,” said Simcoe Coun. Charlie Luke, noting council has an “obligation” to deal with the staff report.
In the past couple of years, council has heard numerous deputations from people who live in the west end of the county and insist the turbines there have sickened them. Some residents have moved out of their homes.
“I feel a great deal of consideration should be given to the residents who live nearby,” said Chanyi.
Company officials said they have held open houses for the Port Dover project and the reception from the public so far has been favourable.
The turbines of the Capital Power project will be one kilometer away from the nearest homes in a proposed new subdivision – farther than the minimum 550 metres the province has stipulated in its new regulations, the meeting was told.
As well, a golf course is slated to go in between the subdivision and the turbines.
If the project makes it through the final level of approvals, construction will start at the end of this year and the first electricity is expected to be generated by the end of 2012, said Josifovski
Enough power would come from the turbines to light up 22,000 Ontario homes, he added.
An open house with Capital Power officials will be held at the Jarvis Community Centre on Mon., Jan. 31 and at the Port Dover Community Centre on Tues., Feb. 1, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. both days.
For more information about the project, go to www.capitalpower.com.
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