There are 91 municipalities, almost exclusively small and rural communities, currently dealing with wind turbine issues. Instead of having 91 separate, small voices, Wainfleet Township is hoping to create one strong, uniformed voice.
“We’re trying to see if we can get these communities together and see what they’re thinking,” said Ald. Betty Konc.
The township is planning on hosting a turbine summit in late January or early February at the Jericho House. Since the township joined the group of Ontario municipalities calling for a moratorium on wind turbines Konc said she’s “been mentioning many times to many people” that the township should organize some sort of summit.
After not gaining much traction she went to the Wainfleet Ratepayers Association, thinking a summit organized by the association and endorsed by the township might be the way to go. Mayor April Jeffs came around, however, and council agreed to host the summit themselves.
“Do they (other municipalities) have any plans on doing something as bold as what Wainfleet did?” she said about one of the key questions she has.
Earlier this year Wainfleet passed a 2 km setback limit for industrial turbines. The limit goes against the province’s 550 m limit outlined in the Green Energy Act. The bylaw caused quite a stir and there’s currently a court case from legal representatives of Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. to get the bylaw overturned.
But Konc said she felt “duty bound as an elected official” to vote for the bylaw to ensure the safety of Wainfleet’s residents.
“In my mind, we didn’t have a choice,” she said.
The summit, she said, will be a chance to have all affected municipalities discuss opinions and strategies. It won’t just be the 90 municipalities calling for a moratorium, though, as the township has extended the invite to all municipalities in the province, Konc said.
Though still early, Konc said they’re starting to get some responses, and expects they’ll be able to fill the 120 seats available.
Konc said she hopes to develop “a firm strategy on what we can do to pressure the Liberal government to change their minds. To take a second look (at the Green Energy Act).”
And with government prorogued and the Liberals looking for a new leader, many expect a spring or early summer election. Konc said the summit could help drum up energy to make wind turbines an election issue.
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