PICTON – After a heated discussion and three recorded votes, Prince Edward County council called for a provincial moratorium on electricity generating wind turbines.
The resolution was brought by Coun. Robert Quaiff at the regular meeting of council based on the province’s removal of wind turbine approvals and overall decision-making from the municipal governments. The resolution also requested independent health studies and a full environmental study be completed to determine the turbines’ possible impact on affected areas.
Earlier in the meeting County residents Jason Alford and Don Chisholm made brief delegations to council in favour of wind turbine power. Alford felt the negative health claims regarding the turbines are “unsubstantiated” and this is an opportunity for the County to move towards green power production. Chisholm produced a new study circulated January 28 on the health effects of wind turbines, suggesting Council review the new study before agreeing to a moratorium.
Coun. Alec Lunn brought forward a motion that council should support a motion passed by North Perth County asking the government for completion of further health studies regarding the turbines. The motion carried in a close 8-7 recorded vote.
“It is time for this council to take a stand on wind turbine development in Prince Edward County,” said Quaiff, urging council to join the 70 other provincial jurisdictions that disapprove of the direction of the Green Energy Act.
Couns. Bev Campbell and Jamie Forrester both felt the motion was premature. Forrester felt more public input was needed. Campbell suggested referring the motion to a public meeting to be set in early March, which was supported by councillors Barry Turpin and Barb Proctor.
“Seven years ago, County council determined we couldn’t afford to develop our own strategy,” said Coun. Brian Marisett. “I am not so sure the Green Energy Act is not working. No wind farms have been approved in Ontario to date.”
This issue has “torn the social fabric of our community apart,” said Quaiff. “We do not need more meetings.” Coun. Terry Shortt agreed with Quaiff, saying, “The public has had their voice. It is time for the province to hear us.”
Mayor Peter Mertens agreed that there have been plenty of opportunities for the public to be made aware of wind turbine issues over the past several years and was concerned with the province’s inconsistent track record regarding the application of the Green Energy Act. He also reminded councillors that while he had attended several such meetings, “I did not see many councillors in attendance.”
Coun. Bev Campbell’s motion to defer the issue for public input was defeated in a 9-6 recorded vote.
Quaiff’s original resolution passed in a 9-6 recorded vote. The nine voting in favour of the motion were: Campbell, Jim Dunlop, Kevin Gale, Lunn, Janice Maynard, Nick Nowitski, Quaiff, Terry Shortt and Mertens. The six opposed were: Campbell, Forrester, Marisett, Dianne O’Brien, Barb Proctor and Barry Turpin.
Coun. Keith MacDonald did not vote due to a conflict of interest.