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Grey narrowly backs wind turbine motion

Grey County narrowly supported an Arran-Elderslie motion calling for a moratorium on wind turbine construction until concerns about them are addressed.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Grey County council passed the motion 47-43 in a weighted vote.

Chatsworth Deputy-mayor Terry McKay said he made the motion because municipalities still don’t have a say in where wind turbines are built.

“Right now we have no say,” said McKay. “Right now we have information meetings for these wind turbine farms, but not necessarily a public meeting.”

Arran-Elderslie’s motion was partly based on an Ontario Federation of Agriculture call for a one-year moratorium beginning Feb. 20. The OFA says the province is not listening to the concerns rural Ontarians have about turbines, which include health related issues, the cost of wind power, setbacks and the lack of municipal input.

Arran-Elderslie has also asked all municipal representatives to walk out of the good roads meeting when Premier Dalton McGuinty gives his speech Feb. 27 if a moratorium isn’t in place, but that doesn’t mean all of those at Grey County who voted for the motion will be doing so.

“The tough part about the motion was that part of it was good and part of it wasn’t so good,” said Georgian Bluffs Mayor Al Barfoot. “I maintain that they still need to have a third-party review on the health portion of it.”

Barfoot said he doesn’t agree with walking out on McGuinty.

“You don’t accomplish anything by walking out,” said Barfoot. “I think a couple of the other councillors reiterated the same thing, that they will not be walking out on the premier. They want to hear what he has to say.”

Barfoot is on the multi-municipality wind turbine working group, which includes representatives from 15 or 16 municipalities, which receives delegations from people both for and against turbines as a way to gather information from both sides of the issue.

Barfoot said the working group has been able to meet with some senior staff at the Ministry of Energy and they were receptive.

“They listened to us and we will see now if that comes to some fruition for us,” said Barfoot. “We had good success in having this conference call and as long as we have dialogue there is a chance of accomplishing what we want.”

McKay, who is also part of the working group, said he thinks walking out on the premier is at the discretion of the individual. He plans to walk out on McGuinty at the conference.

“We have to get our point across,” said McKay. “Sure, they maybe hear us, but they don’t listen. Whether it will do much good, I don’t know.”

Warden Duncan McKinlay, who is also deputy-mayor of the Blue Mountains, said he voted against the motion because he thinks it is disrepectful to walk out on the premier, who was invited to speak at the event.

“One of the core components was to endorse a walkout at the Ontario Good Roads/ROMA conference of delegates whenever the premier, who is an invited guest, takes the podium,” said McKinlay. “I believe that a lot of council members, like myself, with a rural heritage of hospitality and respect, had trouble with that.”

McKinlay said he thinks all of council agrees that municipalities and the province need to continue to discuss wind turbines and the Green Energy Act.