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City to ask Province to re-evaluate noise levels, vibrations and setbacks of wind turbines

What was supposed to be the usual five-minute deputation to City of Kawartha Lakes council turned into almost 90 minutes of discussion on wind turbines.

About 20 people, many from the Pontypool area showed up in support of Dave Bridges and Paul Reid at the Nov. 22 meeting as they urged council to push the Province harder for more studies on the impact of wind turbines on human health.

Council had a staff report on the agenda that asks the Province, in part, to re-evaluate the noise and vibration levels of wind turbines, and establish a setback of two kilometres from residential areas rather than the currently proposed 750 metres.

Mr. Bridges pointed to the Australian model, which can require a setback of up to five kilometres.

He said there is supporting research to show that wind turbines also result in decreasing property values of up to 40 per cent.

“Our concerns are threefold; environmental, economic and human health,” he told council. “We’re reasonable people with reasonable requests, and we don’t know what to do.”

Wind turbines have been a highly controversial topic in Manvers, especially in the last year, with two companies proposing to install three separate wind turbine projects in the area.

Mr. Reid stated flatly that wind turbines “do not work.”

“They are a blight on the landscape…with zero benefits to the taxpayer and the community,” he said. “It’s an international Ponzi scheme that takes money out of our pockets.” He added that “even the Canadian Wind Energy Association admits there are problems.”

Mr. Bridges suggested the companies have not been forthcoming to the public with all of the facts, particularly relating to impact of wind turbines on health.

Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble, who has long championed the anti-wind turbine groups, said the City is trying to attract new residents and wind turbines pose too many risks to the environment and health. She said research as recent as last July all say more study is needed. And, she noted the two-kilometre setback model “is based on science coming out around the world.”

Mr. Reid said houses that are “unsellable” because of a proliferation of wind turbines in an area are difficult to classify as a statistic.

Ward 2 Coun. Emmett Yeo moved the report be approved. Ward 9 Coun. Andy Luff objected, saying the City is “asking the Province to change things in the Green Energy Act and the Municipal Act…it’s not the municipality’s [role] to buck the Province.”

Coun. Luff said while he appreciates “Coun. Stauble’s commitment to her constituents…the Green Energy Act is about the future of the planet.”

Coun. Stauble noted that the controversy on wind turbines focuses on industrial machines; “not the little ones.” She said wind turbines should be subjected “to the same environmental scrutiny that we put everything else through.”

Ward 14 Coun. Ron Ashmore said he read a recent article from a doctor who is the medical officer of health in another municipality, who maintained there are no health hazards from wind turbines. He said he found it hard to accept that one could not rely on the opinion of an accredited doctor.

That brought disapproval from the crowd; with one deputant making a disparaging comment, “What do you call a paid political hack?”

Mayor Ric McGee quickly intervened, reminding the onlookers what is unacceptable in council chambers.

Ward 15 Coun. Gerald McGregor said the report’s recommendations “could go a long way” and praised the “leadership” shown by previous councils that tackled controversial issues such as smoking and pesticide bylaws, looking at the health hazards they posed.

He said he would never support wind turbines; that other countries have had problems, and he noted that the latest technology is not always the best.

“Blackberrys, blueberries, strawberries…iPads, youPads…I don’t care that technology has passed me by. You have to look at the whole picture.”

Ward 11 Coun. Patrick O’Reilly said previous councils had landfills to deal with. “There will always be challenges.” But, Ward 13 Coun. Pat Warren said council could be trading one problem for another. “We have to be part of the solution,” she said, when it comes to environmental hazards such as greenhouse gas emissions.

Coun. Yeo, in summation, said he takes his direction, not from the Green Energy Act, but the Municipal Act.

“Our duty is to ensure the health and safety [of the residents],” he said.

Council approved the motion 14-2 with councillors Luff and Ashmore voting against. (Ward 1 Coun. John Macklem was absent.)