ESSEX – Essex MPP Taras Natyshak heard pros and cons of wind energy during a public meeting at the Essex Centre Sports Complex Thursday night.
Natyshak co-hosted a public meeting with Essex Councillor Randy Voakes but residents from across the region attended to voice the concerns with turbines or their support. Critics of industrial wind turbines said property values drop and health issues increase if homes are close to turbines.
Paul Branton, a Windsor veterinarian, said health issues often take time to materialize. He added that people in the communities should be making the decisions of where such things as wind farms go.
“As time goes by, more and more long term health issues will come out,” he predicted.
Monica Elms, a resident of Chatham-Kent, said she has been working on this issue for six years and that she is hearing more and more about quality of life issues from people forced to live with industrial wind turbines. She said there are issues of property rights as well as property values and health issues.
“There are major issues. Please address them,” she implored.
Michel and Lisa Michaud came to the meeting from Thamesville and said they and their son and daughter have been battling health issues since wind turbines were erected near their home.
“We have become refugees of the Green Energy Act war,” said Lisa. “Our concern is people need to become more educated and find a place where they can get answers.”
She said no one wants to buy their farm and neighbors are experiencing the same thing.
“We have to live with this every day,” added Michel. “Something’s got to be done because of this.”
Pat Jackson told the meeting she too lives near a wind farm and that the noise causes her to miss sleep.
“The noise and the vibrations have an effect on me,” she said.
Tim Stratichuk of Amherstburg said he is an electrician and a linemen as well as a farmer and called the current electrical infrastructure in Ontario “grossly inadequate.” He said times are changing but people have to be more open-minded.
“Things are changing but we have to do it properly,” he said.
Stratichuk said coal-fired plants have a negative impact on health as well as “that stuff goes in your lungs.” He noted he has family members who have health issues and believes it may stem from pollution from coal-fired plants wafting over from the United States.
Danny McNeil, an engineering student who studies in Toronto, said youth are largely in favor of wind energy. He noted every study done on a wind farm project is done on design standards and that it is “a great alternative” to such things as coal plants.
“Wind is a great technology. Why not be part of that?” he asked.
Mark Bartlett, president of the CAW Regional Environment Council, said “we are at a fork in the road” from an energy perspective and that the current road “is a dead-end road.
“What we need to do now is look at the other road,” he said, in reference to wind and solar. “It’s an exciting time to move forward.”
Colin Robson, a wind turbine technician, believed there were issues that were “fabricated without actual facts behind them.” While he said he could not identify the company he works for, he said he has worked for two years inside of turbines for 12-14 hours per day and has had no ill effects.
“You’ve got to get your facts straight before you spread all kinds of information that isn’t true,” he said.
Natyshak said he co-hosted the meeting because he wanted public dialogue on the issue. He said he supports green energy but also said he wanted to hear more about energy conservation.
“How do we use less? How do we become more efficient?” he asked.
Natyshak said he has “issues with the Green Energy Act” and said many of the concerns voiced were “appropriate” and “valid.” He cautioned that it is a huge issue.
“This is a massive package here. It’s very complex and complicated,” he said.