Town of Saugeen Shores staff have been unable to locate an available expert in the field of wind turbine safety, not associated with the wind turbine industry, to help draft a defendable bylaw prohibiting public access to the area immediately surrounding wind turbines, it revealed at last Monday night’s council meeting.
As a result, the town has, for the time being, given up on drafting such a bylaw.
“It’s very disappointing,” said deputy mayor Luke Charbonneau. “My hope is that as further studies are done … hopefully with time we’ll be able to revisit this issue.”
Council first passed a motion Jan. 23 asserting the area immediately surrounding a wind turbine is a dangerous place, and directed staff to draft a bylaw on the issue.
However, without an expert, staff doesn’t believe any bylaw it drafts will be defendable in court, a position the town doesn’t want to put itself in.
“It can be argued that the public is in danger if they are within a certain distance of a wind turbine,” explained clerk Linda White. “However, in order to determine the safe distance the municipal lawyers have recommended the town retain an expert in the field of wind turbine safety … but we’ve been unable to locate an expert.”
Because the town has been unable to find an expert, its legal counsel has advised any bylaw drafted would not be defendable.
“From my perspective it doesn’t necessarily mean this is the end of it -a defendable bylaw may come in time or it may not,” said mayor Mike Smith.
Vice-deputy mayor Doug Gowanlock felt council should still issue a warning to the community, despite not having a bylaw about the dangers wind turbines can pose to people.
“There is a risk, no matter how small it is, and I think we should at least say to the public, be concerned.”
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