Wainfleet residents want a bylaw calling for a two-kilometre setback for wind turbines and 100% restitution of property values by the wind energy industry.
Judith Atkinson, of the Wainfleet Ratepayers Association, asked for the bylaw at Tuesday night’s township council meeting, stating council has an ethical and legal obligation to protect residents from the noise and annoyance of wind turbines.
She said the current setback for wind turbines from residential homes is 550 metres, but contended the model used to determine that number, which also takes into account sound levels, was found to be inadequate.
With wind turbines set for West Lincoln, by Niagara Region Wind Corp., reaching 179 metres in height, Atkinson said more low-frequency sound will be pushed out by the blades and travel over longer distances without much loss. That private company plans to install 77 turbines in West Lincoln and Wainfleet.
“We are seeking protection from the contamination of industrial wind turbines, from the noise and annoyance,” Atkinson said.
She said the Green Energy Act has superseded laws that protect the health of Ontario’s citizens and undermined municipal council authority. She wondered if the loss of rights actually infringed on Canadian charter rights of residents.
“We want our legal rights respected.”
Resident Andrew Watts, an outspoken opponent of wind turbines, also spoke at the meeting.
Watts cited expert after expert and studies from across the world that recognize negative effects of wind turbines on people.
“Evidence is being ignored,” Watts said while calling for more studies.
“I can only continue by asking this elected council to consider, and unanimously adopt, any bylaws or action they can take to prevent industrial wind turbines being sited in Wainfleet, not only as the responsible and sole planning authority for Wainfleet, but also as the elected council for protecting the best interests of all members of their community,” he said.
Ald. Betty Konc asked if the ratepayers’ request could be turned into a bylaw or if it needed to be tweaked.
Town clerk Tanya Lamb suggested town planner Grant Munday could work with the ratepayers to come up with wording for a possible bylaw.
“Bylaws are a little more complex than just what they said,” she said.
Munday said the township would have to point to legislation that would allow such a bylaw to be created.
“The Green Energy Act exempts the Planning Act … the province has taken away authority from us,” he noted.
The planner will work with the ratepayers and prepare a report for the next council meeting in February.
Konc believes council is under a legal obligation to protect residents.
“If we don’t do our due diligence, we could be sued. We have to show we are making an effort … we’re being bullied into something we don’t want to do,” she said.
Ald. David Wyatt agreed with Konc and said the measures have nothing to do with IPC Energy, which is within its full legal rights to pursue its own wind turbine project.
“We have to make a stand if we are going to make a change in government,” he said.
Mayor April Jeffs said even though all decisions regarding wind turbines will be made by the province, at the end of the day residents look to their municipal officials for help.
“We can direct people where to go, but everything starts here at the township level,” she said.
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