Last week’s Norwich Gazette article (Province keeping control Dec. 7, 2011) reported that Ontario Minister of Energy Chris Bentley said ‘if decision-making controls were given back to municipalities, it would stop the initiative.’ What a sad statement of the arrogance and dictatorial approach taken by the provincial Liberal MPPs.
The October provincial election saw virtually every Liberal candidate in rural Ontario defeated due to their energy, environment and economic policies, and their lack of regard for the rights and well-being of rural citizens. Meanwhile the remaining urban MPPs continue their efforts to run roughshod over our rural communities.
Many Norwich Township residents witnessed firsthand the irony and injustice of the province’s ‘control’ when attending a recent township meeting to present a deputation. We watched while our local council considered an application for an ‘accessory structure’ (garage) to be constructed about two metres taller than current zoning by-laws. Following community input and considerable debate, council arrived at a decision – a prime example of local decision-making in the community.
Contrast this with our local council’s authority when it comes to wind turbines. Industrial machines over 40 stories high, with blade sweep larger than a Boeing 767, and blade tip speeds up to 265km/h can be forced into rural communities by urban MPPs with no regard for the local municipality and its citizens.
Our township council voiced its concern with unanimous support for a provincial moratorium on industrial wind turbines. Yet Mr. Bentley and his colleagues thumb their noses at local municipalities and have neutered them from exercising planning authority.
Sure, the government and its agencies will make the usual statements about ‘consultation’ with citizens and municipalities. But a government that cares for its citizens cannot continue to deny the concerns about livelihoods, health and quality of life that are at stake. Rather they engage in a box ticking rubber-stamping exercise.
Concerns about the handling of the renewable energy file run deep. As a result of a Freedom of Information request, internal Ministry of Environment documents have exposed the inadequacy of regulations, equipment, training, and the lack of enforcement in existing wind turbine projects, in addition to concerns regarding the effects of low frequency noise. Add to this the findings of the Environmental Review Tribunal (Kent Breezes, July 2011), acknowledging that wind turbines can cause harm to human health. Of additional interest is the Drennans’ ongoing legal challenge of gag orders in wind developers’ settlements with residents forced to abandon their homes.
The Auditor General recently revealed the hefty price Ontario residents are paying. Contracts awarded without proper tendering and oversight, exorbitant subsidies and electricity costs, and two to four jobs lost for every green energy job the government claims will be created are just symptoms of a very sick system in need of a purge.
It’s time to step back and examine these policies and the legacy they will leave, and address the social injustice that is occurring in communities where the rights of citizens and local municipalities are being trampled.
J. Morris, Woodstock
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