CAMDEN – A community group fighting against a proposed industrial wind turbine project in the Camden/ Harmony area says it is being “silenced by politics.”
And group spokeswoman Hayley Thomas said her community plans to be out in force once again at tonight’s Colchester County council meeting to appeal a decision made by CAO Dan McDougall to not allow council to hear a planned presentation.
“So we went and we met with the CAO and suggested that we be put on the agenda,” Hayley said of a visit this week to the municipal office by she and two other community members.
“And he said that he would not be putting us on the agenda and he said that he didn’t think any of the councillors would want to hear from us and that we shouldn’t be on there. We found that a bit concerning.”
The group has previously made presentations to council on June 28 and Aug. 16 to express its concerns and to request a number of revisions to the municipality’s current wind turbine bylaw.
During the previous meeting, project developer Keith Towse, CEO of Community Wind Farms, also made a presentation following that of the citizens’ group, which Thomas said raised concerns that the community wants to have heard.
“We have information about his presentation that we’d like to address as well as further highlights to the bylaw that we’d like to see amended,” she said.
Council has a practice of not permitting a given group to make more than one presentation on the same topic without new information.
In meeting with Thomas and the other members, McDougall said he indicated to them that they would not be added to the agenda as the group has been before council twice on the subject matter and that it is his role to help manage the council agenda so that all the business before council can be attended to in a timely manner.
“I did indicate to them that their matter is important to council and offered to provide council with any new written information they have,” he said.”
McDougall said he offered to place copies of the group’s information in each councillor’s mailbox at the county office if it was a small package, or would inform council the information was available for their perusal if it was a larger file.
“I also indicated we could place any material on this subject in councillor mailboxes if they reproduced it.”
When asked by Thomas how his decision could be appealed, McDougall said the group’s request could be referred to the meeting chairman (Mayor Bob Taylor) and failing that, they could attend the council meeting and petition council for permission to make a presentation.
“In addition, I discussed with them the council committee motion to refer the matter to Planning Advisory Committee for consideration and advice to council. They were provided with the names of the PAC members including the citizen representatives names,” MacDougall said.
“Finally, I also reviewed with them generally the bylaw approval process which includes first and second reading, public advertisement after first reading, and the opportunity for the public to comment on any proposed amendments to the bylaw and that they could comment and present on any proposed amendments that come forward.”
Thomas said her group would be making an appeal at the council meeting to have its presentation heard.
We are planning on going to council on Thursday with a presentation ready and we’re hoping to be recognized,” she said. “And we are bringing our community along as well.”
More than 85 community members have attended during previous presentations.
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