Municipality of Kincardine mayor Larry Kraemer shot down a request to declare a state of emergency which would effectively shut down area wind turbines until they could be deemed safe by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The proposal was brought forward in a delegation by Bill Palmer during a meeting of council on Nov. 7, 2012.
Palmer, an engineer and former Bruce Power employee who has worked in nuclear safety, risk assessment, and protection of the public, said his position as an anti-wind turbine activist is an extension of his past employment.
“I have a professional obligation as an engineer,” said Palmer, adding he also felt a “personal obligation” to care for his neighbours.
“Nearly every branch of society subscribes to the principal that our actions shouldn’t hurt other people,” he said.
In his presentation, Palmer cited 12 criteria which determine a Declaration of Emergency, such as ‘does the situation pose a danger of major proportions to life or property?’.
“Any one of these 12 criteria are individually enough to declare a state of emergency,” he said.
Palmer said four people living in close proximity to wind turbines have died of sudden cardiac arrest, including a woman in her 30s who lived 463 metres from the nearest turbine. While Palmer acknowledged the sample is a small one, he said the deaths are “above the provincial average.”
“I’m sick of it, that I’m aware of the problem and can’t do anything. We listened to citizens express extreme duress. I can’t put it any other way. We listened to people trapped in their homes.”
Palmer concluded his presentation by asking the mayor and council members to take action.
While councillor Jacqueline Faubert was receptive to Palmer’s delegation, she said declaring an emergency was beyond the scope of her power.
“Never did I imagine the anxiety that comes to me with this issue, but that’s nothing compared to the suffering I’ve heard,” she said. “With response to your request, I’m told I don’t have that power.”
Mayor Kraemer told Palmer declaring a state of emergency could not be justified, and doing so would have negative effects on the community.
“It is my call to make, but you have to think of what that does to a municipality to see it’s not appropriate,” Kraemer said.
“I would have to call a council meeting, authorize spending, dispatch emergency workers. The need needs to be immediate, and our response would be to talk about the plans. I don’t think any one of the people here wants to stay at the Davidson Centre, but that’s what it would enact.”
Kraemer’s response did not satisfy Palmer, who persisted in his request.
“A state of emergency is for people in a situation where they are being harmed, to help them,” he said. “It would send a very powerful message to the province.”
“It doesn’t meet the test I have to consider,” Kraemer replied. “Our emergency plans in no way anticipate this use of them.”
Kraemer suggested those who claim to be suffering ill health effects due to the proximity of turbines file a class-action lawsuit. His proposal prompted an audience member to shout, “you have a responsibility to protect our health,” in response.
Councillor Randy Roppel warned that a court ruling in favour of those protesting wind turbines could ultimately cast a pall over municipal leaders.
“When someone is successful in taking one of these companies to court, and they’re successful, may God have mercy on our souls,” he said.
“I’m 100 percent supportive of the emergency status in our community,” said Faubert. “I was really hoping for the symbolic need of something to be done.”
Councillors agreed to contact the Premier and applicable ministerial office to the relay concerns.
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