Two major studies announced in Canada this week have implications for Thunder Bay. Some will say that studies of wind turbines and sewer systems could not have come at a better time. The studies are timely; they are also late.
The first industrial wind power farm was built in New Hampshire in 1980. Ontario’s new “green” energy policy has drawn a proposal to build a wind farm atop Thunder Bay’s Nor’Wester mountains.
Nearby residents have mounted stiff opposition citing anecdotal reports of negative health effects from low-frequency noise on people who live close to wind turbines. Ontario’s chief medical health officer has said that peer-reviewed research has generally not supported these statements and the province is proceeding with its policy of developing widespread wind and solar energy.
The prevalence of wind farm concerns across the country has prompted the federal government to announce a scientific study of the health allegations. Perhaps Ontario should place a moratorium on wind farm projects until the study is completed in 2014. More to the point, embarking on such a major alternate energy policy might have been preceded by just such a study in this province.
Meanwhile, the Insurance Bureau of Canada wants municipalities to conduct infrastructure risk assessments to determine if their sewer systems can hold up in big storms. The move comes after Thunder Bay and Montreal flooding late in May produced more than $200 million in insurance claims.
The IBC warns that some municipalities may no longer be insurable for water damage if they do not conduct an assessment. Thunder Bay has to be high on that list after its plant flooded, sending raw sewage into hundreds of basements.The city has already been examining its complex sewers while making annual improvements. It will meet local insurers, assess IBC’s risk process and “do whatever it can to protect the interests of residents and businesses.”
Climate change has been an issue for a long time and its effects are growing. It doesn’t matter that the causes are the subject of debate. The increasingly catastrophic results of more intense rain events is plain to see and a national program of municipal sewer capabilities funded by senior government is overdue.
We elect governments who employ legions of advisers to be ahead of the curve on major developments. In these two instances, the analysis comes late in the game.
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