Three Ottawa-area communities concerned about proposals for industrial scale wind turbine developments held a public meeting on Sunday Jan. 23 at the Alfred Taylor Centre in North Gower.
About 150 people were in attendance at the centre where they heard personal stories from three people whose lives have been changed by turbine projects in their areas.
The North Gower Wind Action Group, the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, and the Beckwith Responsible Wind Action Group hosted the event.
“It’s a way for us to get information out to people so they can make informed decisions about wind turbines,” said Jane Wilson of the North Gower Wind Action Group.
Posters dotted the walls of the community centre, outlining some of the issues residents are concerned about – like health risks of living close to a wind turbine, and how property values will be affected.
Posters to stop the wind turbine projects and buttons declaring “No to Turbines” were also prevalent.
One of the guest speakers was Ian Hanna of Prince Edward County who has launched a lawsuit against the Ontario government and the Green Energy Act.
He says he has travelled extensively throughout Ontario and doesn’t feel any of those communities should be home to a cluster of wind turbines.
“There isn’t a community in Ontario that I want to see destroyed by an enormous industrial disaster,” he said.
Hannah says that the government failed to comply with the Precautionary Principle, as it is required to do, when it established the Green Energy Act regulations.
The Precautionary Principle requires that, in situations where there is scientific uncertainty about environmental or human health effects of a proposed action, the proponent should not proceed until the uncertainty is satisfactorily resolved.
“If there is a health risk to people, animals or the environment, then there is cause for further study,” he said.
“We need to try and stop things (the progress of wind turbine projects) until we can find out what those health risks are.”
Hannah said he will continue with his efforts, regardless of the court’s decision.
Wolfe Island resident Janet White was one of a few people who were against the wind turbines in her area.
The passionate advocate and stay-at-home mother and wife said she and her family were hounded for 10 years to lease part of their heritage property to Canadian Hydro.
“They didn’t understand when we said ‘no’ we meant ‘no’,” she said. “What they offer (in terms of rental fees) and what we receive… there is no comparison. They spent billions on our island and there is not one millionaire.”
White urged those in attendance to not sell out and to learn the health risks above all else.
She spoke about a time when her children were outside when the turbines were running.
“Within 15 minutes, both their noses exploded with blood,” she said.
“It makes you wonder, but can I prove it… I’m just a housewife and no Kingston lawyer will take on the case. They don’t want anything to do with it… I have to go to Toronto to find a lawyer.”
The third speaker was John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of more than 50 community groups.
Laforet spoke about the effects of the removal of local democratic powers under the Green Energy Act, and what Ontario’s energy plan is doing to electricity bills.
“We are having an impact,” he said. “Projects are being slowed down. But we have to wake up the government… they need to get real and listen.”
“The province and industry say these industrial machines don’t make noise, but they do,” noted Wilson.
“They say property values won’t decline, but we know from other places in Ontario that they can. Worst of all, we’re told there will not be health effects from the constant noise and vibration, yet we’re learning that people all over Ontario are getting sick and some are having to leave their homes. We want the truth. ”
Gary Thomas of North Gower says he’s feels more information is needed before decisions should be made. His home will be close to about three proposed turbines.
“There should be proper health studies done,” he said. “Delay the projects for a year and implement the precautionary measure… if it’s delayed a year, then the health studies can be done.”
Another North Gower resident Stephen Nourse says he’s been at public meetings since the proposed projects started two years ago.
He says these turbines “have a habit of mushrooming” and he wants to know why they can’t be located farther away from homes.
“Why do they have to be practically on top of homes?” he asked. Each of the three communities is facing an industrial wind turbine project with as many as 10, 190-meter or 60-storey tall turbine towers.
Wilson added that more than 70 municipalities in Ontario are demanding that the province halt wind turbine development, and return planning powers to communities for renewable energy projects so they can protect their citizens.
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