A recent initiative launched by the Cochrane High School (CHS) Sustainable Development Committee has sparked significant controversy in the residential area surrounding the school.
Neighbours of CHS have expressed concern over a recent development application permit made by the committee to install an Evance R9000 5 kW wind turbine on the west side of the school; the concern is with regards to the level of noise potentially produced by the wind turbine, as well as the visual obstruction of the 60-foot high construct.
“We feel the school has not made enough effort to inform the community,” said community member, Brenda Samborski, who expressed concern over placing a wind turbine of this size in between three schools.
“If they’re ‘genuinely’ concerned about resident opposition, why are they continuing with it when the majority of people affected by it oppose it?” added neighbour Richard Kennedy.
Both Kennedy and Samborski feel that the flyer handed out to residents near CHS was misleading and uninformative – highlighting the depiction of a wind turbine in a vacant field on the flyers as irrelevant with regards to their placement in neighborhoods.
Samborski relayed that committee chair, Stephanie Bennett, has not been transparent nor receptive to other alternative possibilities – such as smaller wind turbines, more solar panels or other sustainable development project ideas.
“When we approached the school and Ms. Bennett about considering other mutually acceptable solutions, we were given a very firm ‘no’,” said Samborski.
“Not a single phase of this longstanding project has ever brought harm or degradation to our students, school division or community,” explained Bennett. “There was no malice or secrecy intended in our process for this small wind turbine project.”
The project will be reviewed and either granted or denied by the Cochrane Planning Committee (CPC) – made up of three councillors, Tara McFadden, Joann Churchill and Ivan Davies and five community members, Doug Marter, Keith Crowder, John Moody, Scott Odegaard and Steven Grossick, by mid-summer.
“It’s in the middle of the application process,” explained Jared Kassel, manager of development services for the Town of Cochrane. “The CPC will make a decision on the wind turbine based on the policies outlined in the Cochrane Land Use Bylaw.”
Kassel said he estimates the CPC will reach a decision around mid-August; at that point, should the permit be approved, those who oppose it will have a period around two weeks to appeal the decision; learn more at cochrane.ca.
Those opposing the initiative remain firm that what bothers them the most is CHS’s poor efforts to inform and involve the surrounding residents in the process, expressing additional concerns about potential impact on health and safety for both animals and humans.
Darrin Russell, international business development manager for Evance Wind, said much of his job is to inform, educate and ease the concerns of those living in areas where the Evance R9000 wind turbines are being installed; he said that there has been no indication from any of their research that these models have any negative impacts on the environment, including animal and human health and well-being.
“We install residential wind turbines in residential areas all the time,” said Russell. “These Evance R9000 models are designed specifically for residential areas.”
Russell said although it may not be the case for other wind turbines, their Evance model is likened to produce as much noise as wind rustling through a tree; he said those more than 100 feet away cannot even hear it, as he has had one in his own backyard for four years; with North American headquarters in Arizona, the company has installed more than 2,000 wind turbines.
Visit evancewind.com to learn more.
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