Saugeen Shores council will ask the Ontario government to suspend approvals for two area wind farm projects until they receive community approval.
Nearly 250 people – some in support of wind turbines, some opposed – attended council’s committee of the whole meeting Monday, which heard Deputy-mayor Luke Charbonneau’s motion to seek a halt to the Arran and North Bruce wind projects right after a deputation by Charles Edey of Leader Resources Corporation, the proponent of the two projects.
Most of the crowd, which included people from Lion’s Head to Goderich, had to listen to the meeting in Rotary Hall upstairs at The Plex, since the council room only holds about 35 people.
Charbonneau’s motion is based on Section 2 of The Green Energy Act, which states “this act shall be administered in a manner that promotes community consultation.” Charbonneau argued the province must discuss the merits of green energy proposals to receive community approval, which has not been done.
Edey told council that by approving the motion, councillors could essentially “remove the opportunity for us to engage in meaningful consultation,” and “may remove our ability to have discussion and provide information to the municipality.”
Edey added the move is premature. Consultation is still to come.
“It’s very, very early in the process,” he said. “In fact, in regard to the North Bruce project, we haven’t even started the process. We haven’t even gone to the project descriptor.”
The Arran project is also in the initial stages, he said, noting Leader has yet to complete the environmental impact studies.
“We’re all aware of what consultation is and we understand it,” Edey said. “We understand that we haven’t begun.”
Edey said Leader is at least two years away from putting shovels in the ground in North Bruce and at least 15 months away from similar work in Arran-Elderslie.
“We’re in a crucial period right now as we go through planning and development stages,” Edey said. “I don’t believe it’s right to shut it down and I implore upon you not to do so.”
Coun. Taun Frosst told Edey that council isn’t targeting his business, but is trying to send a message to the provincial government.
“What we’re doing here tonight doesn’t have anything to do with local business. It has to do with The Green Energy Act and the way it’s dealt out to us, that’s what the motion is about tonight,” Frosst said. “It’s not a personal thing and it’s not based on you.”
Charbonneau explained his motion after it was read by Mayor Mike Smith.
“This motion . . . deals with the province’s responsibility to administer The Green Energy Act in a manner that promotes community consultation,” Charbonneau said. “It does not deal with Leader’s obligation to consult under regulation 359-09 under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).”
Charbonneau added he does not feel the consultation undertaken by Leader under the EPA satisfies the need for community consultation under Section 2 of The Green Energy Act.
After he left the meeting Edey accused councillors of “playing politics” with green energy.
“We had a show of well over 100 landowners tonight who said this is something we want to do,” Edey said. “But instead we’re playing politics.”
“We understand the environmental impacts that we’re trying to offset,” Edey said. “This is a time to step forward and do the right thing, not play politics.”
Charbonneau later said council is not playing politics.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” he said. “We’re not playing politics. We’re trying to get the consultation Saugeen Shores is entitled to under The Green Energy Act.”
The motion, which was approved unanimously by committee of the whole, will be circulated to all municipalities inBruce and Grey counties and be forwarded to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for circulation to every municipality in the province.
~with files from Sarah Sloan
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