SMITHVILLE A West Lincoln alderman who doesn’t want wind turbines in the township told a packed community meeting that he won’t support a proposal for boosting the setback distance of turbines from homes.
“It’s illegal,” John Glazier told a planning committee meeting attended by about 500 community members on Monday that ran close to seven hours. “I cannot expose residents of West Lincoln to a potential lawsuit” that could result in a “huge potential cost.”
Glazier, who represents Ward 3, said he wouldn’t support a motion by fellow alderman Alex Micallef for a two-kilometre setback, because Ontario’s Green Energy Act has a 550-metre rule. However, Glazier did say he is hopeful Ontario’s next premier might reform the setback distance in the Act. The township will continue pushing for changes.
Brian Treble, director of planning and building for the township, said the proposed two km setback was discussed in a staff report released last February.
Micallef, who withdrew the motion at the meeting, said he’d do more research to make his proposal more concrete. He said afterward that he “pulled it off the table so people wouldn’t think it was over.”
Opponents and supporters lined up to express their views about two proposed wind turbine developments at the meeting, held at South Lincoln High School in Smithville.
IPC Energy has submitted applications for five turbines and Niagara Region Wind Corporation hopes to get approval for 77 turbines, 44 of which would be in West Lincoln.
Ward 1 Alderman Sue-Ellen Merritt told the crowd she inquired about a potential referendum asking residents if they are willing to defend their municipality in support of the 2 km setback if it was taken to a lawsuit, which could result in a significant tax increase. But Merritt said township staff directed her to a section of the municipal act that prevents it.
Shellie Correia, who chairs the communications committee of the West Lincoln Glanbook Wind Action Group, said after the meeting she felt “there really was no resolution.”
The group has been lobbying against the $550-million NRWC project that has sites for the 44 wind turbines in West Lincoln, plus 31 in Haldimand and five in Wainfleet, for nearly two years.
Correia, who read a letter from her son’s behavioural pediatrician at Monday’s meeting, is concerned about how the vibration and repetitive sound of wind turbines will affect her son, who has sensory issues.
She said she hopes more members of the public get in touch with council to express their feelings about the proposed developments.
Cathy Vitucci, a local farmer who signed up with NRWC to explore having a wind turbine on her farm, said she’d like to see council unified on the topic.
“Whether they’re on my side or not I don’t care. They need to stand their ground.”
NRWC spokesperson Randi Rahamim said her company viewed the meeting as “West Lincoln’s debate,” but representatives were there to listen and support landowners who participate in their project.
NRWC will hold six public meetings in the six affected rural communities (Haldimand County, Lincoln, Wainfleet, West Lincoln, Grimsby and Pelham) during the first week of February, where they will present information and answer questions, Rahamim said.
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