Wind Concerns Meaford – a citizen’s group opposed to an industrial wind turbine development slated for Sydenham Township – has asked Meaford council for support in opposing the project.
The organization made a presentation to Meaford council at its regular meeting held on February 14. A large crowd of local residents crammed into the council chambers for a presentation about the situation.
Nicholas Schaut did most of the speaking at the meeting, while other members of the delegation also gave brief testimonials to council. The group presented council with a thick binder of information compiled about industrial wind energy projects around the province and in other jurisdictions.
During a lengthy presentation Schaut slammed the provincial government for enacting the Green Energy Act, which removed all local planning authority over alternative energy projects. The Act has left local municipalities without any power to regulate alternative energy projects located within their borders. Schaut also said that wind energy companies claim that wind energy reduces greenhouse gases, but there is no proof or evidence that claim is true.
He said industrial turbines being located in local areas would help damage the economy. Schaut pointed to the amazing views and natural environment that is found in the Municipality of Meaford.
“They will ruin the very thing that attracts tourist to our area,” he said. Schaut recommended that the municipality, through its planning department, research ways to challenge the Green Energy Act.
Schaut also suggested several other course of action for council to consider including:
* Conduct a heritage landscape assessment to catalogue the geographical and heritage features that make Meaford such a special place and that warrant protection. Such features would include Great Lakes Heritage Coast, UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves, the Bognor Marsh, the Bighead River Valley, bird migration routes and areas of possible natural and scientific interest.
* Review By-law No. 14-10 enacted by the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie on May 10, 2010 and enact a similar By-law to protect the health and safety of the residents of Meaford.
* As International Power Corporation of Canada (IPC) has stated that wind turbines do not have a negative impact on residential property values, require IPC to provide property value guarantees to affected landowners.
* As IPC is responsible for decommissioning turbines at the end of their economic life, require that bonds or other security be provided to ensure that this cost is not borne by the Municipality in the likely event that IPC has not kept sufficient funds in reserve, sells the project to another company or becomes bankrupt.
* Join Grey County and Grey and Bruce municipalities in using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge the Green Energy Act.
* As a change in government is likely later this year, and as Tim Hudak has stated that he would not impose IWT’s on a municipality that is opposed, council should make a declaration that the Municipality of Meaford is in fact opposed.
Members of council indicated support for the citizens and their goals.
“This is an issue that has come upon us very quickly. In many ways, our hands are tied,” said councillor Barb Clumpus. “We are certainly with you,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Harley Greenfield said he has done his best to remain neutral about the wind turbine issue, however he noted that some things are too important for the municipality to let slip away.
“The loss of viewscape and quality of life can never be regained. I’m not willing to accept that,” said Greenfield.
Councillor Mike Poetker said he couldn’t accept the municipality’s amazing natural features being ruined.
“I have been admiring the views here for a long time. I would not want to see a wind turbine anywhere in there,” Poetker said, in reference to one member of the delegation showing council a picture of the view from his backyard, where turbines are slated to be erected. “I don’t agree with them and I’m with you all the way,” he said.
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