Prince Edward County council has sent a message to anybody who wants to develop a wind farm locally that there are certain criteria that must be met.
“It’s gotten to the point where the municipality has to declare to the province, Gilead Power and other proponents whether or not they’re in support of wind turbines,” said councillor Robert Quaiff in an interview.
County council voted Tuesday to add their comments on the wind farm planned for Ostrander Point to the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Bill of Rights registry.
Council also approved a motion reserving staff the right to respond directly to the ministry regarding future environmental registry postings on wind projects proposed for the county.
“I’m pretty sure that this will speak volumes to other proponents that are looking at coming in and whether or not they want to face all of the objections that council plus the people here are going to give them,” said Quaiff. You’re going to face some strong, heavy opposition before you go changing what’s been here for years and years.”
Gilead Power’s project was posted to the registry on Nov. 30 for a 64-day public consultation period. Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith has worked to have the deadline extended to Feb. 19 to allow for more public consultation and health studies to be finalized.
Council included more than 20 comments in its submission to the ministry. Concerns range from health studies and environmental impact, to road maintenance and emergency response plans.
“I don’t know if it’s going to do a lot,” said Quaiff. “I’m hoping it’s going to change the way the province actually wants to do business. I’ve said it time and time again, (Premier) Dalton McGuinty seems to have his own personal agenda and nobody is going to change that.”
Quiaff said Prince Edward County sent a huge message to the Liberal government during last year’s provincial election by unseating incumbent Liberal Leona Dombrowsky.
“That’s a pretty clear message,” said Quaiff. “Dalton doesn’t get it. At the end of the day this municipality has clearly defined its position. I’m sure proponents are going to continue to knock on the door and I’m sure the community is going to remain divisive. Unfortunately it’s just going to continue to eat away at our municipality and our community at large.”
But not every councillor is against wind development in Prince Edward County. Councillor Keith MacDonald said Ostrander Point is an ideal location for a wind farm.
“I don’t think most of Prince Edward County is against this,” said MacDonald.
Councillor Jamie Forrester agreed the county could gain financially from wind development.
“We’re saying it’s going to hurt our economy but in Kingston they’re trying to build more turbines,” said Forrester. “Maybe we should talk to them because they seem to think it’s good for the local economy.”
“I’m not against turbines but the municipality should have input to how many turbines are built and where they go, said councillor Jim Dunlop. “We haven’t got a response from the province. At the end of the day the result may be the same but we haven’t had our day in court to decide one way or the other.”
“If the province hasn’t responded yet, what makes us think they’re going to respond to our concerns on the registry now?” asked councillor Janice Maynard.
“Once it’s placed on the registry I understand that they have to respond to it,” said Quaiff.
Council isn’t the only group that said they haven’t received a response to their concerns regarding the Ostrander Point project.
Karen Hatchard, co-founder of Point to Point in Prince Edward County, told council Gilead hasn’t responded to any of her organization’s letters.
“It’s hard to understand how Gilead’s application has gotten this far,” said Hatchard. “We identified several concerns within their paperwork as have other informed groups in and outside of the county who work to preserve birds and endangered species.”
Hatchard said Gilead’s application doesn’t include a plan for the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow found in Prince Edward County.
“They use the terms potential effects and things could go wrong pertaining to possible chemical leaks,” said Hatchard. “I find it difficult to trust them.”
Trueman Tuck also addressed council about wind proponent Wind Power Development Canada not addressing public concerns regarding property values.
“Residents purchased a property not aware of the lease agreements dealing with wind turbines in PEC,” said Tuck “Now there are plans to construct turbines adjacent to their property. This county shouldn’t allow any development of this type. It’s an irreversible step. Many of us feel like were being forced into it too rapidly.”
The company submitted an application named the White Pine Project in March 2011 allowing private landowners to build turbines on their property.
“They had no advance notice,” said Tuck. “The realtor didn’t tell them until they got the public notice in March 2011.”
Tuck told council how residents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building their dream retirement homes and now they feel bullied by wind developers.
Landowners aren’t the only ones concerned about money loss when it comes to potential wind developments.
Quiaff said he plans to ask staff to prepare a report outlining how much money council has spent since the first application came forth.
– Courtesy Nicole Kleinsteuber, Prince Edward County Voice: http://ejournalism.lcaat.ca/nicolekleinsteuber/