If and when Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks at the ROMA conference in Toronto Feb. 26 to 29, he might find a sparse audience in the hall.
Mapleton councillors were unanimous on Feb. 14 in their support of a resolution from the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie to snub McGuinty in a very public way at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association event.
The resolution noted the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has now asked McGuinty and the provincial government to suspend the building of industrial wind turbines.
The resolution states, “Dozens of municipalities across this province have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on the construction of industrial wind turbines until questions such as health concerns for people living in proximity to the industrial wind turbines, proper setbacks of industrial wind turbines, devaluation of neighbouring properties, decimation of the rural landscape and destruction of wildlife habitats are properly studied and addressed.”
Arran-Elderslie council added many of those municipalities have asked the province to hand back the planning authority for turbines, but to no avail.
It noted the Ontario Auditor General has tried to explain to the government the serious errors being made under the Green Energy Act with regards to more jobs being lost than created by the wind industry, and that huge profits are being made because consumers and taxpayers are subsidizing turbine projects for large off-shore companies “while making electricity very expensive for the citizens of this province.”
The resolution states there are also implications for decommissioning wind turbines in 20 years.
Arran-Elderslie council resolved that it, along with all other municipalities across the province that share their concerns, request the premier invoke an immediate moratorium of one year, with yearly extensions as required on the construction of turbines in Ontario until those concerns are properly studied and addressed.
The resolution added, “if the moratorium is not announced prior to the start of the [ROMA] conference, all municipal officials in attendance … shall leave the room immediately when the agenda reaches the point that the premier or his designate addresses the conference.”
Arran-Elderslie advocated the move as “a show of solidarity” to demonstrate “our frustration, anger and disappointment over [the government’s] complete and total mishandling of the Green Energy Act and industrial wind turbines in particular.”
Arran-Elderslie asked those supporting the motion to send it to the province, MPPs and municipalities.
Often councils refuse to get involved in such exercises, but councillor Neil Driscoll said Mapleton should support this endeavour.
Driscoll said of McGuinty, “As much as I would not appreciate someone walking out when I was speaking, he has never listened to us.”
Councillor Mike Downy noted it was the Ministry of Environment that signed a recent NextEra Energy project approval in Mapleton.
Mayor Bruce Whale was leery of simply walking out, and wondered if the resolution would be presented at the convention. He said he was not sure the Arran-Elderslie petition would be presented in the actual session.
But councillor Jim Curry said, “If it gets to that point, you walk out and send a message to the premier [about] the dissatisfaction of the municipalities.”
Councillor Andy Knetsch agreed, saying, “We don’t have any options telling the provincial government we don’t have control over what goes on in our own township.”
He added, “I don’t think we have a choice … With this premier, he’s in charge of developing energy policy. I support walking out.”
Whale said he would prefer to find out if there is going to be a request for a meeting over the issues, and then, “If denied, make your feelings known.”
Clerk Patty Sinnamon pointed out Mapleton has made its feelings known. It was the first in Ontario to ask for a moratorium on approvals of turbines until health studies are done.
That happened nearly two years ago, and there has still not even been a response to that request.
Councillors unanimously supported the resolution to walk out on McGuinty.
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