They were on their feet applauding when it was over. City of Kawartha Lakes council voted 15-2 in support of a staff recommendation urging the Province to refuse an application for the Sumac Ridge wind turbine project in Manvers Township.
“They’re coming – unless you can stop them.”
That’s what Paul Reed of the Manvers Wind Concerns group told City of Kawartha Lakes council on Tuesday (Feb. 5), as dozens of people packed the public galleries in council chambers.
At a special council meeting, there were 18 speakers on the agenda. The overwhelming feeling is that wind turbines have a negative impact on health, property values, wildlife habitat and overall quality of life.
Wpd Canada Corporation is proposing the installation of a 10.25 MW wind project, known as Sumac Ridge Wind Farm. The staff report states the current design uses five 2.05 MW wind turbines with a maximum capacity of 11.5 MW. Two of these turbines are located in the Oak Ridges Moraine. As such, the entire project must be considered under the Moraine legislation. The project is considered a Class 4 wind facility and the proposed commercial operation date is July 24, 2014. The operating footprint of the site is 4.52 ha. in total. However, the site comprises several separate parcels of privately owned land in the former Manvers Township, the report notes.
The approximate boundaries of the project area are Highway 7A to the north, Ballyduff Road to the south, and between Highway 35 and Porter Road. Most of those who appeared to speak to council are from Manvers Township.
Staff recommended that council ask the Province to refuse wpd Canada’s application. Director of planning and engineering Ron Taylor clarified that energy companies apply to the Province under a provincial process; council does not approve the application, but may express concerns. A municipal council may offer support for an application, or ask the Province to refuse it.
Mayor Ric McGee took control right away, saying while applause was fine, any “booing, hissing” or other expressions of displeasure would not be tolerated. Two warnings and the assembly would be cleared, he warned.
But, it remained civilized, as several speakers praised council’s “wisdom” and for “listening to the people”; in particular Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble for “devoting four years” to the wind turbine issue.
Mr. Reed said the advance of wind turbines will be unrelenting if municipalities don’t pay attention. “If you let three in…you’ll be letting in hundreds…the only safe places in Ontario will be Muskoka, Caledon and King City.”
Council heard from mothers worried about the possible effects on their children; a real estate agent who said potential buyers in the area are asking how close a property is to a potential wind turbine before putting in an offer, and a woman who drove from Orangeville to speak. She said she and her husband never had health problems until wind turbines went up in their area. After seven months of numerous problems from the noise of the machines, the couple moved away, and the nosebleeds, headaches and sleep deprivation (to name a few) disappeared.
Residents are worried about the size of the turbines (48 storeys high), and that Sumac Ridge is only one of three proposed projects. While it has only five turbines, there’s the potential for 15 because of two more adjoining proposed projects. Setbacks, the impact on property values and the tons of concrete needed to build the bases of the turbines were some of the repeated concerns along with the health factor.
Even representatives from Peterborough County showed up. Debbie Lynch, a Norwood-area resident, said she was closely following the wind turbine issue in the city, as she believes it’s only a matter of time before they show up in Peterborough. “You can’t do an MPAC assessment before the turbines go up…for farmers, it’s their life,” she said. “You can’t just pack up your stuff and move.”
Coun. Stauble later moved staff’s recommendation, reminding council that the impacts of wind turbine noise and plummeting property values, along with the environmental factors cannot be ignored.
Ward 2 Coun. Emmett Yeo supported Coun. Stauble “as I did Coun. [Dave] Marsh years ago…keep up the fight for your democratic rights.”
Ward 13 Coun. Pat Warren tried to explain her stance on green energy projects, saying she “totally understands” how people feel. “I wouldn’t want to live beside one.” But, she said, “I believe we have to move forward with the way we live…we have to look at the big picture.”
That prompted vocal outbursts from the audience, and Mayor McGee stopped them, saying they had been “fabulous” throughout the meeting. “Don’t blow it.”
But, oddly, he also shut down Coun. Warren, telling her to speak to the motion, which she insisted she was. But, the mayor did not permit her to speak further, to scattered applause.
Coun. Stauble further moved that staff explore the implications if the Province does approve the Sumac Ridge project over council’s objections, the City would appeal the decision, including obtaining a court injunction. But, Ward 9 Coun. Andy Luff said that was too rushed and won support (10-7) to defer it until a report comes to the next council meeting.