The construction of wind turbines in the neighbourhood of Gainsborough School has drawn concerns from parents of students at the school, but there will be no action by the District School Board of Niagara to wade into any debate over the project.
Trustees at the have DSBN heard from parents worried about the proximity of turbines being planned by Niagara Region Wind Corp. that are in the nearby vicinity of the school. Parents have expressed a concern to the DSBN over the potential health affects and encouraged the DSBN to have a voice in the process.
West Lincoln/Wainfleet Trustee Ed Fulford, on Dec. 11, tried to do just that. Instead of simply accepting an information report on the wind turbine issue, Fulford tried to have the DSBN support the Township of West Lincoln’s recent resolution caling on the province to impose a moratorium on wind turbines until such a time as the federal health study has been completed – expected to be in 2014.
While the issue was a close one around the table, it was narrowly defeated when board chair Kevin Maves cast the deciding vote in a 6-5 decision against supporting the request for a moratorium.
“I think it’s premature at this point,” said Maves, adding he would like to see the federal information, once availble, before forming any opinion.
One trustee, Lora Campbell, asked why the school board was even addressing the topic of wind turbines.
Superintendernt Cam Hathaway pointed out the DSBN has had much correspondance from parents, so it was addressed during several Program and Planning committee meetings by the board, most recently Dec. 4, when he provided a staff report. Parents are expressing concern over the fact that NRWC plans include four turbines within two kilometres of Gainsborough School, and nine within three kilometres.
“There has been some constituents in the area concerned about ill-health effects,” Hathaway told trustees.
His staff report at the Dec. 4 meeting, however, expressed the DSBN is satisfied with the word of the Niagara Regional Public Health department, who has assured the board that the projects meet the government regulations set to date. He said in the report the DSBN “is expert in the field of education and not medical health care, subsequently we must rely on the wisdom and guidance of medical officials when it comes to health-care matters.”
After the meeting, Fulford said in an interview that the issue has split the community in West Lincoln. He said he wanted to ensure he represented his constituents by ensuring the parents’ voices were heard at the board level.
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