On June 5th past a group of ratepayers made a presentation to ACW Council. The presentation went like this:
Good evening Reeve, Council members, Council staff, ladies and gentlemen. I’m speaking on behalf of a group of residents, ratepayers and landowners in Ashfield Colborne Wawanosh on the matter of industrial wind turbines. Our comments and requests are directed to the Council members who are in a position to speak to this issue. I would therefore respectfully request Council members to please leave the Council Chambers at this time if they have a pecuniary interest in this matter.
Many people in our municipality are becoming increasingly frustrated and angry with regards to the K2 Wind Power Project specifically, and wind power generally as it is being rolled out in our province. This frustration and anger is not directed at you – far from it. As a matter of fact, we would like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thanks to you for everything you did prior to the passing of the Green Energy and Economy Act and everything you have done since. This would include the By-Law passed on December 21, 2010 and the resolution of January 4, 2011. You have made a consistent effort to listen to people and act accordingly and we thank you for that. It has also been duly noted that Capital Power and K2 have not respected Council’s request in the By-Law for a one thousand meter minimum setback.
There’s a growing climate of dissent right across Ontario when it comes to industrial wind. People are slowly but surely catching on that this is a bad deal for Ontario and they are publicly voicing their objections. Eighty municipal councils have passed resolutions, by-laws and/or motions in an effort to address public concerns. There are economists, scientists, engineers, naturalists and many others with an area of expertise, and no vested interest, who are stepping up to the plate to denounce what is happening. Ontario’s Auditor General presented a bleak picture in his recent report on Renewable Energy Initiatives – economic viability, implementation and consultation shortcomings are spelled out in dismal detail. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is calling for a suspension of contracts for industrial wind turbine development projects pending resolution of key concerns. The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) has been asking the province since June of 2009 to stop the development of any more wind power projects in Ontario until an independent human and animal health impact study has been completed. The National Farmers Union’s position statement sets out that, “renewable energy projects must be under the control and ownership of farmers and rural communities, not in the hands of multinational energy corporations”. The provincial powers that be do not appear to be listening yet.
Here in ACW we are facing the possibility of one of the largest wind development projects in this province. If it goes ahead, it has the capacity to utterly transform where we live. Does anyone really have a handle on the cumulative impact of one hundred and forty two (142) 1.8 to 2.3 megawatt turbines, a substation, a transformer station and the associated ancillary equipment, systems and technologies including supporting technical equipment, distribution lines and access roads as set out in the proposed project plan? As of last year, a 1.5 million dollar study of renewable energy is underway. This study is funded by the Ontario government through the Ministry of the Environment. It is a five year study which will take us out to 2016 before completion. The work will begin with “studies that extend the current knowledge of potential health effects related to energy from wind”. The Chatham-Kent Environmental Review Tribunal Decision of last summer also addressed the uncertainty at length and spoke to the embryonic state of the scientific research, particularly with respect to human health concerns. Some examples. On page 191 of the Decision they state, “As mentioned already, the scientific issues pertaining to wind turbine noise are evolving. Therefore, the regulatory responses to that evolving science must keep pace.” On page 193, while acknowledging the need for a more integrated approach to the study of human health impacts, they state, “The Tribunal makes no assumptions as to how such research will develop and whether evidence about serious harm to health will become stronger or weaker over time. The point is simply that, at present, the available information is not sufficient to make accurate predictions. This is not to be taken as a criticism of any of the researchers in this area. It is obvious that new ground is being broken and that important questions are being raised. While the questions are being raised, they are not yet being answered one way or the other…There is a lack of peer-reviewed science on both sides of this debate.” On page 207 of the Decision, in their Overall Conclusion they state, “The Tribunal notes that the research in this area is at quite an early stage and that our collective understanding of the impacts of wind turbines on human health will likely progress as further research and analysis is undertaken…This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”
The Chatham-Kent Tribunal was addressing health concerns about a project for five (5) 2 megawatt turbines. It should come as no surprise that many people in ACW are strongly opposed to a project which is almost 30 times larger than the Kent Breeze Project. To date, 686 residents of ACW have signed a petition against the K2 Wind Power Project. This petition is ongoing, with no end date. Objections are not just on the health front either. Many of these people do not buy the economics of Ontario’s green energy plan. Increasingly this plan is seen to be a very expensive scam, with little to no environmental benefit. Many are worried about impacts on property values, tourism, wildlife habitats and migratory routes. They are worked up about loss of municipal control, loss of local democracy, loss of prime agricultural land for food production and loss of future development potential. Perhaps the biggest loss has already occurred – the loss of trust amongst family members, friends and neighbours – people who have lived and worked together for years and who now feel deeply divided and betrayed. What is happening here is ugly and it is shameful.
Our Council has, thankfully, listened to its residents in the past. After the amalgamation process a name change was considered. A group of residents attended a council meeting and asked that the name be left as is. Council respected that request. At the height of the intensive livestock debate which started in the late 1990’s, Council listened and responded by passing an interim control by-law. More recently, fire protection boundaries were carefully reconsidered after a group of ratepayers came to Council with their concerns. These are just a few examples of why we are confident that you will respond to the requests which we are bringing forward tonight. These requests are doable, within the limited range of options left available to municipal councils, and are as follows:
1. That you step away from any further negotiations with K2 regarding any Community Benefits Agreement, stand with your people and begin to actively oppose the K2 Wind Power Project. If the petition numbers are any indication, you have strong support to do so. We understand why you entered into these discussions but we believe it is time to stop. Signing such an agreement could be construed to be support for the K2 project. In a news release from earlier this spring, Dalton McGuinty was quoted as saying, “I’ve got all kinds of communities that want them [renewable energy installations like wind turbines]. I don’t need the headaches that are associated with them going into communities that don’t want them.” The new points system needs to apply to all proposed projects, regardless of their place in the queue, and we are asking that you strongly advance that position at the provincial level on our behalf.
2. That you ask K2 to give reluctant leaseholders the opportunity to cancel their leases with no penalties attached.
3. That, given the ability of this project to radically alter our township, and given its divisive nature, you consider a referendum for the purpose of allowing people to voice their opinions anonymously.
4. That you align our Council with other like-minded municipalities, take a leadership role if it makes sense to do so and work towards a strong, cohesive push-back against the province.
5. That you provide us with information as to whether or not the ACW Council signed any agreements with Capital Power pertaining to the Kingsbridge I Power Project. If so, did Capital Power fulfill all parts of those agreements?
Thank you for your time this evening. We want to work with you. Ultimately it will be remembered whether or not you stood with the people you represent. It is that difficult and it is that simple. Thank you.
Our petition count is currently at 741. It was recently announced that the federal government will undertake a wind turbine noise and health effects study. The study results are expected to be published sometime in 2014. K2 is moving towards a Final Open House in mid-October. Their goal remains to file the formal Renewal Energy Approval with the Ministry of the Environment this fall. If the Project is approved by the provincial government, the K2 partners expect construction to begin in 2013 and commercial operation to begin in late 2014.
This issue will be on the agenda for ACW Council meetings as we go forward. This issue will continue to disrupt and corrode longstanding relationships in our community. Anger and frustration are mounting.
If you are an ACW resident and are wondering what you can do, here are some ideas. If you are a ratepayer in another municipality and share our concerns, you can simply tailor these ideas to your situation:
1. Attend ACW Council Meetings. They are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Start time is 7:30 p.m. The next Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 7th.
2. Inform yourself. Check out the following: www.windconcernsontario.ca, www.ontario-wind-resistance.org and www.chatcentralhuron.com.
3. Contact your MPP or MPPs (if you have two residences) in writing and articulate your concerns about the K2 Wind Power Project. Our local MPP is: Lisa Thompson, Unit 2, 807 Queen St., Kincardine, ON N2A 2Y2 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Contact Doris Dumais in writing and express your opposition to the K2 Wind Power Project. Her contact information is: Doris Dumais, Director, Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Assessments & Approvals Branch, 2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12A, Toronto, ON M4V 1L5 or email@example.com.
5. Sign our petition opposing the K2 Wind Power Project if you are a resident of ACW (18 years of age or older) and have not yet signed the petition.
Jim & Ev Manktelow, Pauli Sommer, Chris MacLennan, Mike Leith & Anne Marie Howard, Peter Drew, Suzanne & Bill Andrew, Anita & Paul Frayne, Steve Andrew, Terry & Colleen Zinn, Gene Frayne, Marianne & Paul Bollinger, Shawn & Trish Drennan, Paul Shantz
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