A presentation by International Power Canada about the benefits of its proposed industrial wind turbine project in Sydenham Township failed to impress members of Meaford council.
IPC representatives Tim Sullivan and David Timm made a presentation about IPC’s wind farm proposal at council’s regular meeting and explained how they believe it would benefit the community as a whole.
Benefits they cited included:
• 50 per cent of the costs of the project must be sourced in Ontario.
• $5 million would have to be spent on cement, rebar and aggregate.
• $110,000-120,000 in increased property tax paid annually to the municipality/county.
• $350,000-450,000 would be paid to property owners hosting turbines.
• An annual payment to the municipality as part of a community benefit fund for the life of the project.
• 100-120 people hired during construction.
• Spin offs during construction for local hotels and restaurants.
• A total of six full-time positions for operation and maintenance of the project.
However, the impacts presented by the IPC representatives were directly refuted by members of council and by a report prepared by local resident Michael Anderson.
Director of Building and Planning Rob Armstrong presented Anderson’s report to council as part of his larger report on the entire alternative energy issue. Anderson was one of the key citizen players during the development of the Meaford Economic Development Strategy (MEDS).
In his report Anderson said benefits from an industrial wind turbine project would be negligible for the municipality when the negatives of such a project were considered.
“Any increase in taxation from the turbines would be offset by the probable reduction in assessment on the homes in that area,” Anderson said in an interview after the meeting.
Anderson also said tourism to the local area would be negatively impacted by the turbines.
“In Greenland, tourism dropped 40 per cent in areas with turbines. It’s very probable we’ll experience a reduction in tourism,” said Anderson. “The quality of our landscape is one of our key assets. It’s impossible to think there wouldn’t be any negative impact on our tourism,” he said.
Anderson also pointed out that the revenues the IPC representatives referred to in their presentation were for the life of wind farm – they are not annual revenues the municipality/land owners would receive from the company.
The list of benefits presented by IPC also failed to impress Deputy Mayor Harley Greenfield. The Deputy Mayor referred to the $350,000-400,000 to be paid to landowners that will host turbines. Greenfield asked exactly how many landowners would receive that money. The IPC representatives confirmed that 10 landowners have agreed to host turbines.
“That’s a substantial amount of money distributed in a fairly small circle,” he noted, also pointing out that the 100-120 jobs during the construction phase would be very short-term in nature.
In an interview later in the meeting Deputy Mayor Greenfield said the list of apparent benefits the municipality would receive from the wind farm didn’t impress him. The Deputy Mayor pointed out that rural Ontario is being told to host wind farms by the Liberal government at Queen’s Park, but are receiving virtually no lasting economic benefits.
“At the OSSUM conference (Minister of Trade and International Development) Sandra Pupatello had a map of Ontario that showed where the jobs coming from industrial wind turbines are going. They were all entirely along the 401. There was nothing north of Brampton,” said Greenfield. “That’s great for them, but I would argue that they have a pretty good job market there. Why aren’t we getting a piece of that pie? Why aren’t we getting some long-term employment here?” he asked.
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