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Turbine setback part of ‘stupid bylaw’

“It’s a bad and stupid bylaw.”

That’s what Tom Rankin, chief executive officer of Rankin Renewable Power Inc., said about a bylaw Wainfleet Township council hopes to pass during its third reading Tuesday night.

The bylaw would allow the municipality to determine a minimum residential setback for wind turbines should they be constructed in Wainfleet.

Rankin opposes the bylaw, which also requires builders to reimburse residents for any loss of property or ill health affects caused by the turbines.

He said township council has no authority to pass it.

“If it’s contested in court there’s no way (the case) will win,” Rankin said. “They (township officials) would have to pay for damages and lawyers fees. It’s not in the right mind to pass the bylaw.”

The bylaw has already passed two readings. While no specific setback was mentioned for the bylaw, Wainfleet’s aldermen have toyed with the idea of a two-kilometre setback.

Rankin said that number isn’t realistic. Taking into account the size of a turbine, he said the machines would require at least a four-kilometre-diameter setback around the structure.

“There would be no land left to put up a turbine with the setback,” Rankin said. “Try and find four kilometres worth of land without a house on it in Wainfleet. It’s not there.”

Even if it’s deemed unlawful to pass, Mayor April Jeffs said the bylaw is a symbolic gesture by the township against wind turbine development.

“It’s a message we want to send to the province,” she said. “I disagree that it’s unlawful.”

The passing of the bylaw would continue Wainfleet’s stance put forth last year when it supported a moratorium on the construction of turbines. More than 70 municipalities in Ontario supported the moratorium to halt turbine development until more research is conducted.

The Green Energy Act promotes renewable energy projects in Ontario such as wind turbines. And, the same act prevents municipalities from making local decisions on the matter.

Last month the law firm representing Rankin suggested the township voice its opposition to the Green Energy Act, write letters to the provincial government lobbying against it or vote against the current government as alternatives to passing the bylaw.

Rankin’s layers also asked if the municipality obtained legal advice on the issue.

Wainfleet chief administrative officer Scott Luey indicated while the idea was discussed, township staff were not directed to obtain legal advice.