Collingwood councillors are tilting against windmills.
While lining up to oppose the construction of wind turbines in Ontario, in the face of the Green Energy Act, may seem slightly quixotic, councillors forged ahead on Monday night to voice their disapproval to the Fairview Wind project in Clearview Township.
That project would see eight 500-foot turbines erected throughout the northern part of the township – including two within what’s been argued is the ‘outer surface’ of the Collingwood Regional Airport, and therefore presently potential interference to aircraft movements.
Two other proposed turbines sit on the imaginary line that is the 2.1 nautical-mile radius around the airport.
Transport Canada guidelines specify that no objects above 150 feet be located within that approach area.
On Monday, councillors approved a motion, 8-1, drafted by the airport board expressing the view to the Ministry of the Environment that the documents submitted by project proponent WPD Canada to support its application “are inadequate and incomplete, and not in compliance with the Environmental Protection Act, (or) the Green Energy Act.”
The motion also states WPD “failed to carry out the assessment… of any negative environmental effects that may result from the engaging in the project upon Collingwood Regional Airport and on the social/economic wellbeing of the Georgian Triangle area, and in turn has failed to identify modifications to the proposal to reduce or remove the negative impacts.”
WPD submitted the Renewable Energy Approval application for the project at the end of August. In a news release issued two weeks ago by the company, WPD Canada president Ian MacRae stated that “all necessary reports, including a summary of all feedback regarding the project received up to that point, were submitted at that time.
“As part of our activities going forward, we are looking to address the proximity concerns raised by the Collingwood Airport Services Board,” stated MacRae. “We know that the board does not approve of the project; however, we also know that numerous examples exist throughout the world where tall structures and airports co-exist. We believe it is in our mutual best interest to discuss the situation.”
MacRae said WPD has proposed meeting with the airport board.
MOE officials are in the process of reviewing WPD’s application, and if it is deemed complete, it will be posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry for public comment.
WPD has stated in the past it foresees a minimal impact to the airport by the location of the turbines, a position the airport board has disputed several times. On Monday, airport board chair Charlie Tatham again voiced the board’s concerns about turbine locations, noting the potential to interfere with approach procedures designed for the airport – especially for planes landing in rough weather coming off Georgian Bay.
“These towers are hideously tall and hideously close,” he said. “The sole rationale for putting them there is a willing (property owner).”
Only Councillor Ian Chadwick voted against the motion, not because he disagreed with the thrust, but because councillors had not reviewed the technical documents.
“I agree with the content of the motion, but it’s asking how we feel about specific (matters)… how can we support something that we’ve never looked at,” he said. “It’s dishonest to speak to something we’ve not seen.”
Chadwick asked for the motion to be deferred, but none of the other councillors supported his request.
Councillor Mike Edwards noted the board would not have presented a recommendation “if it had not been factual.” Councillor Keith Hull pointed out council recently approved the demolition of the Mountainview Hotel based on a staff recommendation: “We didn’t need to read the documents on how to take down the building.”
“Time is of the essence to get this to the province,” added Deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd. “This is not anti-wind turbine; this is a safety issue for the airport.”