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Meaford urged to take strong stance on wind turbines

Meaford must take a clear position on wind turbines, preferably against them, Deputy-mayor Harley Greenfield says.

Greenfield urged council Monday to decide soon to either accept the increasingly controversial industrial wind turbines or clearly oppose and even obstruct them.

It’s a discussion council should have had two years ago and a decision is needed soon to be fair to both local citizens and potential wind developers, Greenfield said in an interview Tuesday.

He is considering now how best to frame a resolution asking council to support growing public opposition and put developers on notice their big wind turbines are not welcome in Meaford.

“I think that’s fair play,” Greenfield said. “If that’s the decision of council, that should be said and it should be said quite clearly.”

He said he believes many councillors are resigned to wind development, convinced the Green Energy Act’s regulations leave municipal officials with few controls and little power to oppose wind projects once they are approved provincially.

But if there are options to add taxes or put in place other hurdles to discourage wind development in Meaford, Meaford should do so, Greenfield said.

His comments rose in response to a citizen’s request Monday for a Meaford bylaw protecting residents from a list of negative impacts associated with turbines, including on health and property values. Representing an undisclosed number of concerned citizens, many who were at the Monday committee meeting, Mike Osborn urged council to put in place a bylaw similar to one passed recently in Wainfleet.

It extends the 550-metre setback under the Green Energy Act to two kilometres, which Osborn said is also recommended now by the World Health Organization. Wainfleet’s new bylaw also requires those who build and operate turbines to indemnify against lost property values and adverse health effects. Osborn said despite Green Energy Act regulations, the bylaw also relies on at least five Municipal Act provisions and two under the Environmental Protection Act requiring municipalities to protect the health, safety and economic well being of residents and conserve the 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,” Osborn told council. The added setback distance would minimize both potential harm and impact on property values and agricultural viability of land near turbines, he said.

Later, another resident asked if someone on council would file that day a notice of motion allowing the bylaw the citizens proposed to be on the table for a vote in two weeks. No one on council did so and there was very little discussion after.

Greenfield said any local bylaw should be shorter than the Wainfleet document. He also warned that such a bylaw would likely have little weight against the Green Energy Act regulations, but urged council to take a public position regardless.

“Either we decide to accept IWTs and go along with them and accommodate them or the other option is we can’t refuse them but we can say to these companies ‘you know what, we really don’t want you folks here and we’re going to throw up some roadblocks,” Greenfield said. “To me we’ve got two choices and I really wish our council would decide what it is we want to do.”

Tuesday, Greenfield again said it is unlikely council would consider a bylaw like Wainfleet’s, but he plans to research the wording to see if it would have any strength against the Green Energy Act provisions.

“I don’t like exercises in futility,” he said.