Bluewater school trustees want the board’s health and safety staff to explore the health effects of industrial wind turbines before supporting a call by one of their own asking the provincial government to suspend further wind development until those health effects are known.
Trustee Kevin Larson, who represents Saugeen Shores and Arran-Elderslie, put forth the motion for the moratorium, saying public concern about possible negative health impacts and the board’s “legal requirement to ensure the well-being of students in our schools, some of which are or may be located near to industrial wind turbines” was the reason for the motion.
“This has nothing to do with the CAW turbine. It’s not about economics or politics . . . we are entrusted with the care and well-being of our students,” Larson said, adding there is “overwhelming evidence” that health studies are needed.
Walkerton area trustee Dan Wong agreed, saying the safety of students “comes first.”
Meaford-area trustee Fran Morgan suggested deferring the moratorium motion until the board’s April 17 meeting.
That would give the board’s health and safety specialist Ron Motz “an opportunity to conduct our own study, much the same way the board did to address Wi-Fi concerns.”
Four trustees – Larson, Wong, Terry Bell and Jim Dawson voted in favouring of deferring, saying it would be “useful” to have that information. Four other trustees – Marilyn McComb, Theresa Root, Marg Gaviller and Larson – voted against, leaving board chair Jan Johnstone to break the tie.
Johnstone supported deferring the motion.
Earlier in the meeting, as a delegation before the board, Elderslie deputy mayor Mark Davis, an outspoken critic of wind turbines, expressed concern about student safety and well-being, “especially when it comes to infrasound problems” and going so far as to say children in school buses are in danger because of possible ice throws off turbine blades.
He urged the board to support Larson’s motion, calling it a “show of support for the students, families and communities affected by these things. To stay neutral shows favour to the oppressed.”
Saugeen Shores lawyer John Mann also spoke to the board, saying “many students are in the danger zone and they are suffering both inwardly and outwardly. You need to tell the government we don’t want our students in harm’s way.”
Davis said later he believes “their hearts are in the right place” but went on to say he doesn’t believe the trustees understand the full complexity of doing a health study, and doubts whether board staff have the expertise to do so.
“But, like I said, their hearts are in the right place and support Kevin 100% in what he’s asking the board to do.”
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