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Wind turbine process undemocratic, mayor says

Norwood – Mayor Doug Pearcy is frustrated by the lack of democratic process and municipal control in the march to build three football-field-sized wind turbines in the township just west of Hastings.

He also warns that the wind farm will effect everyone in the municipality, not just those living in the target zone, if nearby properties are devalued and owners win assessment relief forcing council to raise taxes to make up for any shortfall.

“At this moment (municipal) moratoriums don’t mean very much in the wind power industry,” a clearly frustrated Pearcy said during the final public meeting for the Wind Farm Collie Hill “small” project undertaken by Zero Emission People on private property north and south of County Road 2 west of Hastings. The company wants to build three 1.8 MW turbines, two south of the county road and one north of the country road just east of the Middle 5th Line of Asphodel.

Each turbine tower is 100 metres tall from ground to hub and each of its three blades is 92 metres long making for a massive structure of nearly 150 metres (492 feet) in height.

When township council passed its two wind turbine moratoriums Pearcy says they thought they were doing “something concrete.

“But it’s meaningless” because the province will issue the building permits.

“It’s frustrating. It’s not a democratic thing to take the rights of municipal council away and I can’t understand any government doing that.”

He’s also disappointed that the company made no effort to address council about their proposal.

“They should have come to council for sure to make sure we understood everything: the value of the investment (and) what it could do for the municipality. These are all questions that are unanswered. Until we know this is a done deal we’re going to continue to try and stop it.”

Pearcy was puzzled that the meeting only attracted township residents living in southwest Asphodel and some others with a personal interest in the turbines. It’s an issues that affects all residents, he stressed.

“There is no extra cash to be had in this township so we would have to increase tax rates which would impact every property owner in Asphodel-Norwood (if property values drop in that part of the township and assessment is lost).

“There seemed to be little interest in the meeting other than from affected residents. The truth is that this could possibly have a negative impact on every resident which really concerns me as it should everyone.”

And he said that knowing the company has said it will contribute over $2 million to Asphodel Norwood through the 20-year life of the project through property taxes, local community initiatives and local expenditures during construction.

“Obviously there is money in this for municipalities. If they come to council with a proposal we’d be in a hell of a spot,” he said.

“If it was council’s decision we’d be under a huge amount of pressure from both sides, for or against. Because it’s provincial I don’t think they’re (the government) under the same kind of pressure we’d be under.”

Pearcy says local residents have to press MPP Jeff Leal and new premier Kathleen Wynne, who he invited to the meeting to “find out firsthand what the Green Energy Act has done to municipalities.”

“If they want to stop this they have to put a lot of pressure on the province.”