COLLINGWOOD – Collingwood council took a stand against the WPD wind turbine proposal on Monday evening.
Council voted in favour of voicing their concern with the Ministry of Environment over the proposed Fairview Wind Farm near Stayner and its proximity to the Collingwood Regional Airport.
A staff report said the WPD application was “inadequate and incomplete,” and did not recognize the potential impact to the airport.
Airport services board chair Charlie Tatham believes four of the proposed 500-foot tall turbines would impact arriving and departing aircraft at the airport.
“The issue is that WPD is proposing to erect 500-foot tall structures within the operating limits of the airport,” he said. It’s quite a shocking proposition. The WPD assessment of the implications to the airport is very superficial.”
Tatham says council’s support is important.
“We believe that this is a dangerous proposition. Here’s our chance to rub their noses in it and make sure it doesn’t go by unchallenged,” he said.
Councillor Ian Chadwick didn’t see all of the documents and chose not to support the motion.
“I feel it would be dishonest of me to speak to something I haven’t seen,” Chadwick said.
Deputy Mayor Rick Lloyd says he’s not anti-wind but is against the turbines this close to the airport.
“It’s been something the airport services board has been dealing with for a number of months,” he said. “People will avoid coming to our airport if there are these towers within the proximity. We’re not anti wind turbines at all. It’s just a safety issue.”
Tatham has been battling the turbines for a while.
In September, he penned a letter to Doris Dumais, Director of the Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch of the MOE.
“It is our respectful position, Ms Dumais, that the MOE should choose the safest way out of this dilemma and require that the turbines be moved farther away from the airport,” Tatham wrote. “After all, public safety is at stake.”
Tatham says because Transport Canada – the governing body for airports – does not take a position it appears that that they are in favour of these projects.
“It is a very serious matter and so far, I get the feeling that somehow some aspects of the safety issues are being trivialized or perhaps not fully appreciated,” he wrote. “This possibly arises from Transport Canada’s understandable reluctance to become involved in land use issues around registered airports, believing that this is purely in the hands of the province.”
At a press conference in August, WPD introduced a report by SMS Aviation regarding the proximity of the turbines to the airport.
“SMS agreed to review the situation and concluded that the Collingwood Airport can continue to operated safely with the proposed Fairview Wind Farm,” said Ian MacRae, president of WPD Canada.
The WPD report used Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA) as comparison to Collingwood Regional Airport.
MacRae said the Toronto airport sees more than 100,000 movements annually, hosts a large flight school and is located on a lake with lake effect weather.
“The CN Tower is approximately 1.3 kilometres from the Toronto City Airport runway, while the closet turbine to the Collingwood runway is more than twice that distance at 3.1 kilometres,” he said.
In a rebuttal, airport consultant Charles Cormier said this isn’t a fair comparison.
“The existence of significantly high structures such as the CN Tower in close proximity to BBTCA was used as justification to allow turbines close to Collingwood. This comparison is irrational and not relevant to the issues,” Cormier wrote. “BBTCA has a special certification status that took years to evolve. It has a control tower that has special procedures in place to warn about tall ships passing the runway ends.”
Terry Kelly, director of SMS aviation, said only three flights per year would be impacted at the Collingwood airport.
When developing the report, Kelly said they looked at Environment Canada weather data for Collingwood for the past five years in order to determine how often weather might prevent a pilot from seeing the runway or and landing.
“There are any number of obstacles that are both man made and natural around many airports in Canada,” he said. “The pilots have a responsibility to ensure they fly in adequate weather.”
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