Opponents of wind energy urged West Lincoln council to do more to prevent wind turbines from going up, and applauded council for a motion to oppose any future wind projects or expansions of existing applications on Monday night.
At the May 14 planning meeting, Ald. Sue-Ellen Merritt had brought forward a motion to instruct the province of Ontario that no points should be awarded to future wind farm applications on the basis of municipal support, as that support will not be forthcoming.
Residents John Dykstra and Catherine Mitchell were the first to speak against wind turbines. The couple has been at council many times to oppose wind power.
“Many experts with no vested interest in the wind turbine industry conclude that when industrial wind turbines are located too close to family homes the prolonged exposure to the audible and inaudible range of acoustic characteristics of wind turbine noise adversely affects people’s health,” said Mitchell.
“How come you can put bylaws in place to protect the roads and the infrastructure of this municipality but you can not protect the health and the property values of the people that elected you and live in this municipality?” Mitchell asked.
The two presenters told West Lincoln council they should revisit calls for a two kilometre setbacks from wind turbines to the nearest home. It’s currently 550 metres.
Previously, council has told the group that a bylaw setting a two kilometre setback would be pointless, as the Green Energy Act would only override it.
Helen Kszan outlined some stories of victims of wind turbine issues.
Kszan also talked about a United Nations declaration that no one should be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Tom Shields told council his family had lived and farmed in West Lincoln for 60 years.
He wanted to advise property owners to have their properties assessed in the event there was a class action lawsuit due to health and property devaluation concerns.
“Once again West Lincoln will be left to clean up what someone else started,” he said.
He called community money to be donated by Niagara Region Wind Corporation “blood money”.
He said council had options available to “defer” the turbines and asked if they would be strong enough to take those options.
West Lincoln Mayor Douglas Joyner then cautioned the crowd who had been clapping and hooting after each delegation.
“There’ll be no hollering, no hooting and whistling in this council chamber,” he told them. “There will be respect in this council chamber.”
Dave Baxter, of St. Anns, had a shorter message for council.
“I just found out today that one of these wind mills is going across the street from me,” he said.
“I don’t want it.”
Neil Switzer and Cam Pritchard of the West Lincoln Wind Action Group (WLWAG) presented a petition opposing wind farms bearing the names of 799 residents.
Switzer also thanked Ald. Sue-Ellen Merritt for bringing forward the motion to tell the province not to award any points based on the municipality’s approval.
Later when the May 14 planning minutes were being accepted, a lengthy discussion took place about the exact wording of Ald. Merritt’s motion, with Mayor Joyner warning council several times that it was not the appropriate place to “wordsmith” and that if council wanted changes, it should be dealt with at committee.
Merritt wanted to amend her original motion to add wording so that the township would effectively tell the province that no points should be awarded to any new or existing contract, so it would cover possible expansion of existing projects.
Mayor Joyner said no expansion could take place without a new application.
“I would think that the way you have it written there is fine,” he said.
Merritt acknowledged that the additional wording might not be necessary, but she said it would send a clear message to the province that the town was not in favour of new or existing contracts.
“I don’t want to see this postponed anymore,” she told council in reference to the mayor’s comment that if council wanted to wordsmith the motion, it should be done at committee.
Ald. Eric Leith asked to amend the motion to reflect that council was also not in favour of the existing applications, but other members of council refused to support his motion for amendment, saying that more thought and work needed to be put into it.
Wind Capital of Canada
Mayor Joyner informed council that an attempt had been made at Niagara Region to have the region named as the wind capital of Canada, but that he and Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs had managed to shut down the initiative.
Ald. Sue-Ellen Merritt expressed concern that members of the Region had wanted to dub the region as the wind capital.
“That infuriates me, frankly,” she told council. “I’m sick and tired of stuff being shoved down our throat.”
Merritt said she hoped the 800 strong petition would reach the regional level and much higher.
She said that residents had to continue to fight against wind turbines.