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Turbine moratorium shot down at Queen’s Park

Several Dufferin municipalities were served a windy feeling of defeat after a private member’s bill to place a moratorium on wind farms was rejected at Queen’s Park.
On Thursday (March 8), Huron-Bruce Conservative MPP Lisa Thompson introduced a motion to suspend all wind projects until independent health and environmental studies are done. That bill, however, was shut down, as the Liberals and NDP “ganged up on us,” quipped Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones.
“We call it the LibDem coalition,” Jones said, noting she was disappointed, but not surprised, by the result. “I can’t say that I was shocked.”
As a result of ongoing concerns within his municipality, Mayor Don MacIver believes a moratorium on wind farms is the only appropriate way to go. Amaranth is already home to 21 wind turbines, and faced with another proposal, the Whittington Wind Project, that would see three 100-metre tall turbines erected there.
“We have got so many problems,” MacIver said. “Put a moratorium on it until we solve these problems.”
It comes as no surprise that Melancthon Deputy Mayor Darren White agrees, as the council he sits on has been calling for a moratorium on wind farms for several years. Melancthon has also demanded the province cap the number of wind turbines municipalities house.
“Further study should be done, if for no other reason than to allay the fears of the public,” White said. “I think with something that big, any and all avenues of study should be taken before we move forward.”
With more than 100 wind turbines already spinning at the TransAlta wind facility, and seven more in Melancthon as part of the Plateau Wind Project, more are being proposed by Dufferin Wind Power Inc. As White explained, the debate over wind projects has pitted residents against each other.
“There is a treasure trove of different things that upset people about wind turbines,” he said. “We have heard all of them.”
From MacIver’s perspective, any studies into the potential health affects of wind turbines undertaken by the province so far have been inadequate. Simply asking a panel sit to back at “arms length” and review literature isn’t going to dig into the problem, he said.
“They’re not getting into the community where the health problems really are, interviewing (people) and going through their record of health problems,” MacIver said. “They’re not there.”
Shortly after Thompson’s bill was wiped off the table Thursday, Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley reminded the legislature the province is reviewing and looking to build on the strengths of its Green Energy Act.
“We’ve been listening very carefully to communities, to municipalities, to organizations both rural and urban,” Bentley said during Question Period. “We’re going to come out with a strengthened program very soon.”
Jones, whose recent private member’s bill to give local municipalities planning authority for wind projects was also denied, said her party will continue to press the issue.
“We’re all waiting to see what kind of changes they’re going to be making to the (Feed-In Tariff) program, the green energy review,” Jones said. “But I don’t see any great changes.”