Meaford council has told industrial wind turbine developers that they’re not welcome in this municipality.
Meaford council at its regular meeting on Monday, June 25 supported a resolution stating its opposition to industrial wind turbine developments in this municipality.
Deputy Mayor Harley Greenfield brought forward the resolution. It stated: “the council of the Municipality of Meaford confirms that it is not desirous of any industrial wind turbine development within our corporation, and requests that developers of wind farms do not submit further applications within our municipal boundaries.”
The resolution passed in a 4-2 recorded vote, with councillor James McIntosh declaring a conflict on the matter.
Before the vote council held a spirited debate about the resolution. At one point a person in the audience interrupted the debate when councillor Deborah Young was speaking. Councillor Young demanded an apology and the audience member refused. After several silent moments Mayor Francis Richardson smoothed out the situation and the debate continued.
Mayor Richardson, Deputy Mayor Greenfield and councillors Mike Poetker and Barb Clumpus combined to pass the resolution. Councillors Young and Lynda Stephens were opposed.
Greenfield led the debate and listed a number of “green” ideas and initiatives that he fully supports. The Deputy Mayor, however, said he doesn’t support industrial wind turbine developments and doesn’t want to see them anywhere in Meaford.
“We have a window of opportunity and I suggest we take that opportunity to say ‘no’,” said Greenfield.
Councillor Young spoke against the resolution and said council had no authority to vote against wind turbines.
“This is a provincial matter. This is not a municipal matter. Is this an opportunity to stop wind turbines? I don’t believe so,” said Young.
Councillor Stephens echoed Young’s comments and said the Green Energy Act removes municipal authority over the approval of wind turbines.
“These are not in our jurisdiction. We need to accept what we can’t do and what we don’t have control over,” said Stephens.
Councillor Mike Poetker – who is a real estate agent – said the consequences for property values in Meaford if there is an invasion of industrial wind turbines could be devastating.
“I’ve never had anybody come to me and say: “find me an area with a wind mill.” It’s the opposite,” said Poetker, who estimated the property values near wind turbines could fall up to 30 per cent. “I have a great fear we could be into a bigger problem with wind mills in this area,” he said.
Councillor Clumpus said she is concerned that the current turbine technology would be obsolete long before the 20-year power contracts expire. Clumpus also said she doesn’t see any benefits to turbines in this area.
“This could have an impact on our major industry, which is economic development through tourism. I have yet to see a net benefit in a community with wind turbines,” she said.
Despite her comments Clumpus tried to have the resolution tabled. However, her motion for a deferral was not seconded and it died on the table.
At the end of the debate Mayor Richardson took the unusual step of vacating the chair in order to speak to the issue. The Mayor said the issue was of such importance the public deserved to know where all members of council stand on the matter.
Mayor Richardson said he could support the resolution because it specifically referred to industrial wind turbine projects and not other “green” energy ideas.
“We’re not going to the province and saying: ‘we’re going to fight you.’ The province has asked us to make these recommendations one way or another,” said the Mayor, noting that he had not received a single email from a resident in favour of industrial wind turbines.
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