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Ontario wind farms are really wind factories

The twin counties of Bruce and Grey, which lie south of Georgian Bay and west of Lake Huron, have been the source of much of rural Ontario’s opposition to wind factory developments.

These developments are commonly called wind farms, but wind factories is a more accurate description.

The opposition to turbines spread across the province just about as fast as the giant turbines started to crop up. Since Ontario has been in the throes of a rush to wind power for a number of years, that was fast indeed.

The breadth of the opposition to wind turbines is nowhere better documented than in the results of the last provincial election when voters across rural and much of northern Ontario turned their backs on the McGuinty government. They did so largely because of the way local planning controls were neutered so wind factories could be forced down rural throats.

A major argument against wind factory developments is the adverse effects they have on the health of nearby residents.

Provincial health officials gave no credence to those concerns and news releases to that effect from 2010 still show up when you search the topic on government websites.

One says in part, “The scientific evidence does not demonstrate any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, according to a new report from Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

“The report was prepared by the chief medical officer of health and in consultation with the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health. The report summarizes the scientific evidence on the potential health impacts of wind turbines.”

Even though Wind Concerns Ontario has pricked that balloon, the news release still stands, presumably because it reflects the continuing official position.

Dr. Hazel Lynn, medical officer of health for both Grey and Bruce, was not convinced and said so in defiance of King’s position. After a further study she released in February, Lynn is even more certain that she is right on this issue.

Lynn and Dr. Ian Arra concluded that turbines do cause distress among people who live close by.

This conclusion came after examination of the “most available and credible” studies on turbines and their effects related to noise. The Grey-Bruce researchers focused on 18 peer-reviewed studies, all of which revealed an association between turbines and human distress.

Because of that conclusion, Grey County council this week called for a moratorium on turbine developments until further health studies can be conducted.

Bob White, deputy mayor of Hanover, the second-largest community in Grey, who proposed the moratorium, said, “There’s hundreds of them in Grey County and they’re going up pretty fast. Let’s take a look to see if there is an adverse condition before we put any more up.”

The call for a moratorium passed by a vote of 13-9. Among the dissenters was Kevin Eccles, mayor of West Grey and Liberal candidate in the last provincial election.

Last year Arran-Elderslie, the smallest municipality in Bruce, led a fight against turbines and a boycott of then-premier Dalton McGuinty’s speech at a gathering of municipal leaders in Toronto.

If it’s true that all politics is local, as former U.S. House speaker Thomas (Tip) O’Neill famously said, then you’d think provincial politicians would soon begin to listen to the locals who reside in rural Ontario.