Tuckersmith Coun. Larry McGrath tried to bring the issue of a health and safety bylaw for residents living near industrial wind turbines back to the council table but his fellow Huron East councillors failed to support him.
McGrath gave notice at Huron East’s May 15 meeting of his intention to reconsider a resolution made by council Feb. 21 to endorse a press release on council’s official position on a bylaw to protect health, safety and wellbeing of persons but needed a two-thirds majority of council to have the topic brought back to the table at council’s next meeting.
The press release announced Huron East’s intention to give up trying to write a health and safety bylaw after consulting with two different lawyers during a two-year process of investigation, saying such a bylaw would be unenforceable.
According to Deputy-Mayor Joe Steffler, who was chairing the meeting, McGrath was not allowed to discuss the bylaw or the motion while asking to raise it from the table. While three councillors were in favour, the motion was defeated.
After the meeting, McGrath said he wanted to revisit the issue because of a recent Ontario Municipal Board ruling that sided with the province and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in a land severence that proposed taking agricultural land out of production.
“They said you’re not allowed to use prime farmland for anything but farming so I was hoping we could put that into a protection bylaw,” said McGrath, adding that with 15 turbines proposed in the St. Columban wind project using three acres of farmland apiece, a bylaw could prevent that land use.
“I got thinking it was something we could look at,” he said.
In the same vein, McKillop Coun. Bill Siemon announced that he would like to present a motion at the next Huron East meeting that would state that Huron East is not in favour of the placement of industrial wind turbines within the borders of the municipality.
“This is important to the anti-wind group and I want to raise it at the next meeting,” he said.
Siemon also pointed to the fact that provincial law protects prime agricultural land for food production and argued that the Green Energy Act shouldn’t be able to supersede that provincial law which was already in place. He said a motion stating the municipality’s opposition to industrial wind turbines couldn’t be challenged in court.
“It’s like dealing with a bear – you have to keep poking it with a sharp stick and maybe it will move on,” he said.
Mayor Bernie MacLellan said councillors would be given an opportunity to discuss whethter they agree with the motion or not at the next Huron East council meeting.