A rural Ontario MPP is calling for separate property assessments in areas where wind turbines are located or are planned.
Huron-Perth MPP Lisa Thompson said property owners are just now getting their newest valuation statements from the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) and, in Huron County at least, some farm assessments have increased by 63%.
But those numbers don’t reflect what she says is a drop in resale value for properties near wind turbines.
The difference means they’ll likely be paying more in taxes on property that’s actually worth less, she said.
“We need to hit the pause button here,” she said Tuesday.
She is calling for independent, third-party assessments of turbine-area properties and has sent that request to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.
But Monday’s proroguing of the Legislature – ending public debates and discussions of various policies – casts that process into doubt too.
Provincial Tories, including Thompson, have been sharply critical of the Liberals’ green energy strategy and resulting increases in energy costs.
“There are worries about property values. There are continued worries about health concerns. There are continued worries about local municipalities not being respected and not having a voice,” Thompson said.
Her concerns come as a London property appraiser is blowing holes in wind proponents’ contentions that turbines don’t lower property values.
Appraiser Ben Lansink said in a recent study that homes bought and sold near an Orangeville-area wind farm lost an average 38% in resale value because of buyers’ and sellers’ apprehensions about the behemoth structures.
Lansink said that decline has implications also for property owners who don’t live near turbines, as they would have to make up any drop in property tax revenue from their neighbours.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association has responded by saying it’s unfair to draw generalizations from so small a study group in one small geographic area.
It says independent studies haven’t found property values fall near wind farms. Thompson said an independent review could remove the spin from the issue.
She said it may even be time for a new tax category that specifically includes turbines.
But Monday’s proroguing of the Legislature casts into doubt imminent movement on her request.
Wind turbines are a key feature of the provincial Liberals’ plan to reduce Ontario’s reliance on fossil fuels as sources of energy.
About 1,200 of them spin in Ontario right now, with their numbers forecast to more-than-double during the next few years.
But they’ve increasingly become a lightning rod of criticism from people who are concerned about possible effects on human health, bird migration patterns, the environment and sustainable energy costs.