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Drawing the line: Plympton-Wyoming sets up for a wind turbine fight

Plympton-Wyoming council says industrial wind turbines should be two kilometers away from homes and they’re prepared to go to court to make it happen.

In February, council passed tough new rules on setbacks (how close wind turbines can be to homes) saying it was concerned about the health effects on residents. It also imposed a $200,000 deposit for each turbine to be built in the municipality to cover any decommissioning costs.

But the rules fell under the Planning Act, an act which is superseded by the Green Energy Act. It took away all planning power from municipalities when it came to green projects. So recently, council passed the same setback rule, this time, under the Municipal Act which is not superseded by the Green Energy Act. It is a move several other Ontario municipalities have made, but one which has yet to be challenged in court.

Mayor Lonny Napper says Plympton-Wyoming expects that could happen soon since wind energy companies are entrenched in their position. “When I meet with wind companies I make it clear up front what our setbacks are and they say they’re going to go with the Green Energy Act and the 550 meter setbacks,” says Napper.

The mayor is ready for “one good fight” in court which would settle the dispute over who has the right to regulate where wind turbines go.

And he’s willing to spend taxpayers’ money for it says he hopes “some of the other organizations would pop in and help us.

“I hope that it would be a burden on taxpayers,” he says.”

Councilor Ron Schenk, who is also a spokesperson for the anti-wind group WAIT, agrees it is time to stand up. “We have no control of our own neighbourhood anymore,” says Schenk. “If it was a nuclear plant coming to the neighbourhood, we would have complete control.

“As a municipal councilor I have a duty to protect (Plympton-Wyoming residents) under the Municipal Act; that’s what I was elected to do. We’ll see whether the provincial government has the power to surpass that, too.”

Schenk says the new two-kilometer setback under the Municipal Act can apply to new projects and he expects wind energy companies will challenge it. For his part, Schenk says council is ready to fight.

“We passed the bylaw and I’m from the school that if we passed the bylaw, we’ll take it to the Supreme Court (of Canada)…if it costs $400,000, it costs $400,000…Council passed the bylaw, now we’re going to bat for this bylaw.”

The issue will be one of many discussed July 31 at a town hall meeting held by WAIT in Camlachie.