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Ontario’s setback distances don’t address impacts from wind turbines

I’m writing to express my concerns on the misinformation being disseminated by the Ontario government regarding industrial wind turbines and the setback requirements from homes and properties.

Both Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley have been repeatedly quoted as saying that the setback requirements in Ontario are “some of the toughest in the world” and “the best in North America.”

Contrary to these claims, there are a multitude of townships and counties in the United States, other areas of Canada and various countries around the world, whose setbacks regulations and wind ordinances are clearly stricter than those in place in Ontario. I believe that Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Bradley are intentionally trying to mislead and deceive the people of Ontario.

Their statements are simply not true. I feel it is vitally important that the residents of Ontario are aware of this. It is a clear indication that the government’s concerns are for the wind company’s profits, and not the safety and well-being of the residents of this province.

There are many more ordinances that have setbacks listed from neighboring property lines that are far stricter than Ontario’s regulation of turbine height, less the blade length. There are also several international regulations that have further setbacks.

Obviously, these countries place the safety of their citizens paramount to the profit of the wind companies. Some countries are enacting setbacks as far as 2 kms from people’s homes due to emerging studies indicating that there are, in fact, health, noise and safety issues associated with turbines.

Another area of serious concern is the exemption from setbacks for homes located on the properties that participate in the wind turbine project. These homes are not subject to the minimum 550m distance from turbines and are often in much closer proximity. Children, the elderly and pregnant women living in these homes are exposed, each and every day, to much higher levels of noise and vibration emanating from the turbines.

To my knowledge, the Ontario government has never conducted any studies on the short or long term effect that this will have on these vulnerable family members who are being exposed to noise levels far in excess of the regulations. Why is there no law that requires that the children or other family members living in these homes be protected? Are the children in these homes acceptable collateral damage?

Only the Ontario government can answer as to why they have clearly chosen to violate the rights of these children and family members, and not protect them in any way.

The simple truth is that Ontario’s regulated distances from industrial wind turbines are woefully inadequate and sub par to many other jurisdictions, and fail to address the issues of health and safety for the nearby residents.

The issues facing the rural residents of Ontario are far from being properly addressed or resolved. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health did not conduct evidence-based scientific research, when they concluded that there is no “direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”

Not one part of the CMOH Report from May 2010 reviews the present-day experiences of those in the municipalities in Ontario who have dealt with the impacts of sound from existing wind turbines. Many other international studies have concluded the opposite findings to the CMOH and outline the impacts wind turbine sound has on people further than Ontario’s regulated setbacks, not to mention the impact turbines have on property values, along with shadow flicker and visual pollution.

I think the time is well overdue that the deception and dishonesty of the Ontario government with respect to industrial wind turbines be exposed and that the people of Ontario learn the truth about the inadequate regulations that are seriously affecting the rural citizens of this province and their livelihoods.

Trish Crang
Singhampton, Ont.