A Meaford resident has asked members of council to bring forward a bylaw pertaining to industrial wind turbines that he feels would have some teeth, and would protect the community, its residents, and its agricultural sector from an influx of wind farms.
Mike Osborn, who has been a resident of the municipality since 2004, told council that he was making the request on behalf of a group of concerned citizens.
“We are very concerned about the various adverse impacts of the Industrial Wind Turbines. Much has been written about the high cost to taxpayers of these machines. Many such articles have appeared in rural and urban newspapers in Ontario. Indeed around the world in countries such as Australia, United Kingdom and Spain the same concerns are expressed,” said Osborn in the opening remarks of his presentation to council.
Osborn said that other municipalities have taken steps to protect themselves from the potential for large scale industrial wind farm developments, and he pointed specifically to the community of Wainfleet who he says passed a comprehensive bylaw in April of this year which extends the setbacks for wind turbines to two kilometres as opposed to the provincially mandated minimum of 550 metres. Wainfleet is a rural community located in the Niagara region.
“This Council has already passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on Wind Turbines, and this is a good first step. However, more is needed to protect the residents of the Municipality. We have examined By-laws passed by other Municipalities and suggest the Wainfleet By-law that was enacted on 10th April 2012, as being the most appropriate one from which to pattern a Meaford By-law,” explained Osborn, “The Wainfleet By-law seeks to augment, but not contravene, regulations regarding the setback of Wind Turbines from homes and businesses. The relevant Green Energy Act regulation states that they must be located no less than 550 meters from a “noise receptor”, that is “home”. The Wainfleet By-law seeks to extend the setback to two kilometers. I must tell you that even the World Health Organization now recommends a setback of two kilometres.”
Osborn provided members of council with a copy of the Wainfleet bylaw, and he urged council to adopt a similar bylaw by the end of June.
“There is urgency to passing a By-law because one provision of the Municipal Act is set to expire on 1st July 2012. This provision confers the right of municipalities to enact By-laws, quote: “for purposes related to the health, safety and well-being of inhabitants of the municipality”. Given the intransigence of the present Liberal government in their relentless pursuit of Turbine installations, we must expect that they will revoke or not renew this provision of the Act,” suggested Osborn.
Osborn says that the bylaw approved in Wainfleet taps into an area in which Ontario municipalities still have jurisdiction in spite of the limitations on municipal control imposed by the Green Energy Act that have tied the hands of communities throughout the province with regard to development of wind farms.
The Wainfleet bylaw says Osborn, cites five provisions of the Municipal Act to protect the health, safety and economic well-being of municipal residents. It also cites two provisions of the Environmental Protection Act that address health and safety issues, and conservation of the natural environment.
“Of relevance here is the fact that when you took office you swore allegiance to the Municipal Act, and not to the Green Energy Act,” offered Osborn.
While members of council did not make any commitment to implementing a bylaw similar to the one approved by the Wainfleet council, Deputy Mayor Harley Greenfield was concerned that any bylaw implemented by Meaford would not stand up against provincial legislation, though he did suggest that he would like to see Meaford’s council take a position on the issue in some way.
“What I would need to do before I would consider bringing something forward similar to the Wainfleet bylaw, would be to check to see what strength a municipal bylaw would have against the strength of the Green Energy Act,” offered Greenfield, “Municipal bylaws when compared to provincial legislation usually don’t stand up that well. What I really would like this council to do, and I have mentioned this before, I think we need to do as a council is to make a statement to our residents. Either we accept Industrial Wind Turbines, we go along with them, accommodate them, or the other option is we can’t refuse them but, we can say to these companies, we really don’t want you folks here, we don’t welcome you here, and we’re going to throw up some roadblocks. I really wish our council would decide.”
No other members of council spoke to the issue, however Mayor Francis Richardson said that council would review the request over the next two weeks and could address the issue at the May 28 meeting of council.
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