September 10, 2012
Letters, Ontario

Reader says turbines devalue property 10 September 2012

I wish to share with you information I have found regarding wind turbines and their effect on property values. When contacting Veresen Inc (St Columban’s proponents) with this concern they stated that they didn’t EXPECT any effect on my property value and proceeded to send me a study that was supposed to reassure me.

Upon further investigation the study merely dealt with farmland (it doesn’t take an expert to know that it has gone up everywhere in the last several years). It made no mention of rural residential property. 

I received a property appraisal by a licensed realtor in the area since I was cautioned that if I waited until after the project’s completion, value loss could not be attributed solely to the project itself.

The appraisal confirmed my suspicion that in fact my property would be de-valued. The report stated that: “Wind turbines and their infrastructure are considered to have questionable environmental and habitation elements that would effect value trending and marketability.”

Another quote from the report indicated: “This property is potentially subject to hydro transmission. This factor is considered to be a detriment in the marketing and value trending for the subject property.”

Who would you believe: a wind company that stands to gain financially or a licensed real estate appraiser? Our appraiser went on to explain that not only the “project area” for the wind farm will be affected (his prediction was 20-40% decrease in value-depending on how close to the project area you are) but that the whole municipality can be associated with the wind project in the mind of a potential “outside-the-municipality” buyer.

MLS now requires you to disclose how close to a wind project your property is, as well as disclosing anything that could have an environmental impact on the property. He stated that the high-powered line (buried or not) would have to be disclosed to a potential buyer. 

I informed Huron East council in a deputation of the appraisal’s findings. I was told that they may pursue a bylaw to protect property values against any business that could potentially lower a neighbouring property’s value (not specific to a wind farm). Council told me proof was needed that MPAC assessments were in fact dropping near wind farms before considering such a bylaw. 

I sent away for a list of property assessment reductions from MPAC for Wolfe Island Township (home to the province’s second largest wind farm). This list, provided through the Freedom of Information Act, clearly shows all the assessment reductions since that wind farm became operational in 2009.

The list shows 78 significant assessment reductions since 2008 totalling $3 million. The six largest reductions were over $100 000 each (one being as high as $143 000). All these properties are situated very close to the turbines themselves. This very clearly shows what can happen to property assessments when wind farms are erected around residential areas. What is to prevent this from happening to Huron East ratepayers (and the municipalities’ tax base)? 

Huron East now has in its possession this list from MPAC. I have been informed recently that they, as a council, may no longer be willing to pursue a bylaw to protect our property values. If you would like your equity protected by the municipality, please contact your councillor. Once the St Columban project is operational, it will be too late.

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