Kincardine will establish a fund to conduct independent noise studies on industrial wind turbines to ensure they are in compliance with provincial regulations.
The motion, introduced by councillor Jacqueline Faubert, set off a heated debate amongst council members during last Wednesday’s meeting.
“I feel really, really positive about this motion,” she said. “This is an area where we have some say, where we otherwise have had obstacles and barriers.”
The motion requires the Municipality to set aside up to $100,000 per year from municipal tax revenue from the Armow Wind Project to be placed in a reserve fund. The money would be used, if needed, to hire professionals to conduct independent studies on Armow wind turbines to make sure that noise levels are within provincially-mandated limits (40 decibels at a minimum setback of 550 metres from neighbouring properties).
Faubert said that she had hoped that the project’s developers, Pattern Renewable Holdings and Samsung Renewable Energy, would have agreed to fund independent noise studies when the memorandum of understanding was being worked out with the Municipality. The companies agreed to fund an independent review of their own noise report.
The motion pointed to the fact that the Municipality had passed resolutions acknowledging that some residents have suffered side effects, attributed to the proximity of industrial wind turbines to their homes or workplaces, and that the Municipality would not support wind turbines that are not in compliance with municipal policy. The motion also noted that there have been errors in submissions and reports from wind energy developers.
“We know there are problems,” said councillor Ron Coristine. “We know people are suffering. I think it makes good sense to do this.”
Councillor Candy Hewitt said she had no objections to the motion, but asked what the plan of action would be if a turbine was discovered not to be in compliance.
“The intent of the motion is to make the decision at the council level to do a study in the future,” Faubert said.
Councillor Ken Craig said that the question had not been answered. He asked what the legal recourse would be if the noise output from the turbines was a few decibels too high? He added that he needed more information about the purpose of the funds.
“Are we going to keep testing and testing and testing until we find them in contravention and then do something about it, or is it a one-time thing?”
By stating that the contributions are to be annual, council is binding future councils with the financial responsibility, Craig said, and argued that it should be the responsibility of wind energy project developers to fund the studies.
“I don’t disagree that it’s the company that should do it, but after finishing the MOU (memorandum of understanding), I don’t think they (Pattern and Samsung) have any interest in doing it,” said councillor Mike Leggett.
Mayor Larry Kraemer said the Municipality is looking at changing the procedure for motions, which would require them to be passed through municipal staff for advice and input before they come to council. He suggested that the motion be deferred until April in order for staff to review it and look at the legal aspects of it.
Councillor Ron Coristine voiced serious concern about the proposal.
“By following that action we would be diluting the democratic process and, in effect, there would be no notice of motions and motions would go through staff,” he said. “I can’t go with that.”
Kraemer called for a deferral, but it was defeated, with only himself and councillors Craig and Hewitt voting in favour for it. Council then voted to support establishing the fund.