The Town of Saugeen Shores has refused to participate in a community liaison committee to monitor the operation of the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union (CAW) wind turbine in conjunction with the CAW.
Council agreed to note and file a letter from CAW president Ken Lewenza during committe-of-the-whole last Monday night, after it found Lewenza’s terms for the committee to be too restrictive.
“I think we’d be better off with no committee than a committee structured like this,” complained vice-deputy mayor Doug Gowanlock.
The terms of the committee called for one representative from council, one representative from the Beachers’ Association and either the police chief or fire chief to join three members from the community who support, oppose and are impartial to the project.
The remainder of the committee would be comprised of a minimum of seven CAW union staff and required that at no time should the number of community representatives outnumber CAW representatives. The committee would always be chaired by a CAW member.
Furthermore information could not be released to the public unless the entire committee approved it and all work produced by the committee would be the property of the CAW and not admissible in any court or tribunal proceedings.
“It doesn’t accomplish at all what we wanted and there is no grounds for town staff to participate in the committee,” said deputy mayor Luke Charbonneau.
Mayor Mike Smith agreed with council, stating he wasn’t comfortable with the ratio of CAW members to non-CAW members on the committee.
“The formation of the committee is almost impossible and at all times the CAW will outnumber all other representatives,” he added.
The proposed committee would have met 2-3 times a year and provided communication about the turbine’s operation to the community, including results of noise assessments, maintenance schedules and energy production levels. The committee would also have received and dealt with written feedback from the community and answered questions from the community.
Lewenza called the terms an “attempt to craft a meaningful and reasonable proposal… that we trust Town Council will find acceptable.”
Aside from the terms for the committee structure, the letter also stated the CAW would not pay for an outside consultant to monitor the turbine.
“The CAW will not provide the Town of Saugeen Shores funds to hire consultants to monitor the turbine’s operation,” the letter reads.
Lewenza argues the CAW has already committed significant resources to the monitoring of the turbine by conducting “preliminary acoustic and environmental assessments” and by continuing to conduct ongoing assessments, which will be made available to the public.
“This is a step down from the commitment made by Ken Lewenza to me, that the turbine wouldn’t hurt anyone in this community,” Charbonneau responded, adding the CAW appears to be falling back on far less strict ministry guidelines rather than honouring its earlier commitments.
Despite council’s disappointment with the letter it has agreed to another face-to-face meeting with Lewenza to discuss the matter of the turbine further.
The CAW turbine is still slated to begin operating by the end of May.
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