Wainfleet’s mayor April Jeffs had some support for her day in court.
Jeffs was at the St. Catharines Court House Tuesday to give a deposition on the township’s 2-km setback bylaw, which it passed earlier this year as part of its fight against an industrial wind turbine project proposed by Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. and Rankin Construction.
The bylaw goes against the 550-metre setback limit outlined in the province’s Green Energy Act. Outside the court house, opponents of wind turbines marched with signs to show their frustration over the proposed projects in West Lincoln and Wainfleet, as well as support Jeffs.
There were roughly 25 protesters outside the court house.
“April has stepped up to the plate,” said Cam Pritchard, spokesman for the West Lincoln Wind Action Group, which helped organize the protest.
Tom Rankin, CEO for Rankin Construction, said he had no problem with the protests.
He called the Wainfleet bylaw illegal, and said he doesn’t want it to cause problems when construction on the turbines begin, likely next year.
“We had no choice but to do this,” he said. Lawyers for Rankin went to Wainfleet council twice to warn them of potential court action if they passed the bylaw.
Rankin doesn’t expect the case to cause any delays in the Wainfleet project.
“If it is delayed, and it’s caused by the bylaw, there could be consequences,” he said.
Pritchard applauded the township’s setback bylaw. While he would like to see other municipalities take similar actions, he said it’ll be wise to see how the Wainfleet suit unfolds.
Tara Pitt, who owns Burnaby Skydive alongside her husband Mike, made the trek up to St. Catharines from Wainfleet. Pitt said in addition to the possible health effects and property devaluation residents could face if the turbines go up, she and her husband face an additional problem.
“We go a step further with our right to make a living,” she said. With turbines potentially being as close as 1,700 m to their business, Pitt said skydivers would have to dive over the turbines, a scary proposition.
And while the lawsuit could end up costing the township in expensive legal fees, Pitt said she’s behind council’s bylaw “100 per cent.”
“She (Jeffs) needs to be applauded for her courage,” she said, adding Jeffs and the rest of council isn’t allowing themselves to be “bullied” by the wind energy companies.
Pritchard called the movement for more turbines a “band aid solution.” The real solution, he added, is to conserve, recycle and reuse.
The case is expected to be heard in February.
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