The Town of Collingwood doesn’t want to see wind towers located near its airport.
Council unanimously voted to support a resolution from the Collingwood Airport Services Board to oppose the WPD Windfarm project.
The proposal – dubbed the Fairview Wind Project – will see eight wind turbines located just west of Stayner – north and south of County Road. 91.
WPD is hosting a public open house on Wednesday, July 13 at the Stayner Community Centre on Regina Street. The meeting runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If the province signs off on the project the WPD turbines will generate electricity that can be sold to Hydro One.
Collingwood Deputy Mayor Rick Lloyd said he’s not opposed to windmills, but that they should not be this close to the airport. He said he would have the same concerns if a communications tower were proposed.
“It makes absolutely no sense to located windmills that close to our airport,” he said.
Lloyd, who sits on the board, said when the wind farm was first proposed the airport board supported it, but the proposal has been reconfigured and now has more of an impact on the airport.
“The windmills have moved to the north side of Hwy. 91, they were on the south side of Hwy. 91, Lloyd said. “Now, they are a major concern.”
He said the turbines are within a two kilometre radius of the airport.
“It is a major concern that the Turbines will interfere with air traffic,” he said. “As well during poor weather conditions many pilots fly by instruments and having towers within the fly zone, there are real possibilities of an accident,” he said.
Lloyd said some ambulance helicopters land at the airport when the weather is too bad to land at Collingwood General & Marine Hospital.
He said the windmills could potentially hurt the economic viability of the airport.
“It is our fear that pilots will avoid coming to our airport because of the potential danger of the wind towers. Fewer planes means less fuel sales and less investment at our airport. It’s imperative that they aren’t located that close.”
The airport board has agreed to hire Chaz Cormier and he will act as a consultant for the airport at the public meeting.
The Township of Clearview says the province and Ontario Power Authority should consider WPD Canada’s proposal a new project and not an amendment to the original application.
“The new WPD proposal substantially alters the location of the proposed wind farm project, increasing and shifting the study area significantly and altering the potential impacts of the proposal,” Mayor Ken Ferguson writes in a letter to Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid and Ontario Power Authority CEO Colin Anderson. “The proposal is not a minor amendment within the original study area. This submission is essentially an announcement of an entire new project affecting a different and larger area and should accordingly be processed as a new project rather than an amended project.”
Council OK’d the mayor’s letter to Duguid and Anderson at its meeting Monday night.
“The current project is not consistent with the project location described in the original Notice of Proposal to Engage in a Renewable Energy project and therefore does not satisfy the regulatory requirements with respect to proper notice of the project description and potentially impacted lands,” Ferguson told Duguid and Anderson. “The current project location is also inconsistent with the contents of the original FIT application, which require that the application provide legal and GPS descriptions of the project’s location.”
But WPD takes a different view than the township.
“Before we actually went public with this particular layout we did check with all authorities… and we were told everything would be fine,” WPD president Ian MacRae told The Sun on Tuesday morning.
WPD announced in early June, as reported in The Sun, it had relocated the eight turbines it proposes to erect.
“Some residents complained the turbines were too close to so-called accessory structures that received building permits from Clearview Township on the same day that the previous layout was publicized,” MacRae said when the changes were announced nearly a month ago. “Although regulations specify that the accessory structures need not be considered, WPD has found a way to alleviate these concerns and accommodate these structures. The solution was achieved with the complete co-operation of participating landowner families, as they too approved of changes to ease neighbours’ concerns.”
In the original mapping, the eight turbines were located south of County Road 91. The new plan shows that four of the turbines would be situated north of the county road and that the other four would be on the south side of the road. The change has also resulted in some of the turbines being located closer to the county road.
Michael Dickinson, who lives just south of the proposed site, is not happy with the new locations.
“In fact the relocation of six of the eight, 500-foot high industrial wind turbines closer to County Road 91 will negatively impact an additional 30 families who all will be living within 1,000 metres of these giants,” he said.
Dickinson, a member of the anti industrial wind turbine group Preserve Clearview Inc., says there are other issues to consider.
“The new turbine locations will also be perilously close to the Collingwood Airport, endangering the lives of pilots and the public as well as curtailing expansion plans,” he said.
Preserve Clearview Inc., Dickinson says, continues, “to be shocked at the scale of this development on prime agricultural lands, in a prime recreational area of Ontario and the negative economic impact it is going to have on the Clearview community.
He said that property values will “plummet, seriously affecting retirement plans, and result in declining tax revenues,” if the project is allowed to go ahead.
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