STAYNER – Clearview Township council on Monday night approved a staff report that states the municipality doesn’t support the Wpd wind turbine project west of Stayner.
Council took the position based on the interest of “public health, economic prosperity and quality of life.”
The township also took the position that the province should enact a moratorium on further approvals of large scale wind turbine projects until a Health Canada study on the effects of them is complete and “there is adequate opportunity for all levels of government and the public to review, consider and act upon the findings of the study.”
Also, council directed township staff to draft a nuisance bylaw to deal with the potential impacts of wind turbines.
And council asked the municipality’s treasurer, Edward Henley, to “investigate options for amending the Development Charges Bylaw to apply to industrial wind turbines and other green energy project construction.”
The township’s position Monday night – which received a loud applause from a packed gallery once it was formally approved – was based on recommendations in a staff report from the municipality’s Planning Department.
Kevin Elwood, a County Road 91 resident, lives in the area where Wpd wants to erect eight turbines. Speaking outside the council chamber later in the evening, Elwood said he was happy with the position council took.
Councillor Brent Preston said he thought the staff report reflected the “sentiment” of the community.
Preston, who voted in favour of the report’s recommendations, said wind turbine projects contribute “nothing” to the community.
Councillor Doug Measures made similar comments and praised staff for its work on the report.
Councillor Orville Brown, another supporter of the report’s recommendations, said he’s had more than 230 phone calls, e-mails and face-to-face conversations about the turbine project and not one was in support.
Councillor Robert Walker and Councillor Deb Bronee also supported the report.
Councillor Thom Paterson said now is the time to take a stand against the Wpd project.
“I fully support what we are doing here,” he said.
Mayor Ken Ferguson also backed the report.
But that was not the case with everyone.
Councillor Shawn Davidson, who is against the Wpd project, could not support the staff report because of the section that calls on staff to draft a nuisance bylaw.
Davidson said he’s researched such bylaws in connection to wind turbines and found no evidence they are enforceable.
He tried to get council to pull the nuisance bylaw section by putting forward a motion but it was defeated.
Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage also did not support the staff report.
Savage said she believes in green energy projects.
“Unfortunately, on this issue, I stand alone, and maybe that’s why I feel so strongly that the other side – those who accept and/or support the values around green energy – require and deserve a voice at this table. And because of my personal views, it falls to me to be that voice,” she said.
If approved by the province, the turbines will be situated on farmland. Savage said the township has “taken great strides in assisting our producers to be more sustainable, to have added-value opportunities on the farm and now we’re doing a 180 [degree turn] and telling them what they can’t do.”
The deputy mayor also questioned how “embracing green energy” undermines the outdoor activities and natural environment of Clearview that everyone values.
“We can’t have it both ways. If we truly are concerned for our environment, for air quality, for the exhaustion of natural resources, for our never-ending thirst for energy, then we have to do something, sometime, somewhere,” she said. “Is the process perfect? Far from it. Would I prefer to see a cooperative approach with community partners and benefactors – absolutely.”
Savage did secure one victory Monday night. After the recommendations of the staff report were approved, she put forward a resolution that council approved, directing the township to pursue “options for a community investment benefit with Wpd to be included in their financial plan.”
What type of benefit Wpd might provide to Clearview would have to be worked out.
Davidson questioned whether a benefit would be possible given the township’s position on the turbine project.