Expressing concerns about the proximity of St. Columban School to the proposed 15-turbine wind project, Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) is asking the Huron Perth Catholic District School Board to write to the project’s parent company Veresen Inc.
Jeanne Melady, of HEAT, told the board that the draft proposal of St. Columban Wind LP shows three turbines within three kilometres of the school and she has heard concerns in the community about the possible affect on the learning environment.
“The parents and community have identified to us they want to let those responsible for the school know that they’re very aware their children are in the school and want the quality of education to remain,” she said. “They want a safe and healthy environment for their children and they’ve expressed concern about the potential effect of the noise.”
Melady pointed out that the draft project description report states that recreation areas “may be located within the study area” without acknowledging the location of the school or the soccer fields.
“But, we definitely know there is an elementary school and a soccer field there,” she said.
Melady added that the draft report acknowledges the potential for accidents and malfunctions during operation of the wind turbines, pointing to the possibility of negative effects from ice throw when school buses travel down country roads.
She showed photos of wind turbines that have fallen over and of a sign in Melancthon Township warning travellers on a country road about ice throw from the turbines.
“Is it likely to happen? Probably not but turbines do fall over and they are not set back from the roads a sufficient distance,” she said, adding that the setback of the turbines from roads is 305 metres.
Melady said that 10 to 15 per cent of the population are predicted to be affected by the noise from turbines and suggested that Special Education students might be the most “sensitive receptors” in the school.
“We’re aware that low frequency noise can be audible five kilometres away with a sensitive receptor even though the Ministry of the Environment sets the setback at 550 metres,” she said. “The sensitive receptors will be the children and the parents concerned about them.”
HEAT member Gerry Ryan told the trustees that the consultants working at the St. Columban Wind LP open house in Seaforth “had no idea” the soccer fields and school were located in St. Columban when he brought the topic up with them.
“The principals of Veresen in Calgary will have no idea where St. Columban is. It would just be one of the assets of their company,” added Melady.
She asked the school board to contact the company to comment on the proposed wind project.
While no discussion about the request happened at the Huron Perth school board meeting last Monday, Education Director Martha Dutrizac said in a phone interview that the board would put the topic on its agenda sometime in the fall.
“I’ve heard nothing about the topic from any parents but as a board we welcomed the presentation and will deliberate on it,” she said.
St. Columban principal Heather Marcy said no one has approached her directly with any concerns about the proposed wind project but added she’s only been at the school for six months.
“I haven’t heard any concerns but that doesn’t mean they’re not there,” she said.
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