Huron East is now an unwilling host for industrial wind turbines (IWTs) and their infrastructure after a unanimous decision by Huron East councillors at their April 2 meeting.
However, the close to 60 St. Columban community members who packed the council chambers left angry and disappointed that councillors did not reopen discussion on a second motion that would have created an agreement with St. Columban Energy LP protecting the property values and health concerns of neighbours of the proposed 15-turbine project as well as requiring sound studies before, during and after the completion of the project.
“I am totally disappointed with council,” said HEAT (Huron East Against Turbines) member Gerry Ryan after thanking councillors for passing the motion declaring Huron East an unwilling host for IWTs. “All we’re asking for is for you to protect the people. I thought you would represent us tonight.”
After council held an hour-long closed session to discuss advice from two lawyers, Mayor Bernie MacLellan told the close to 60-person crowd that council would need a two-thirds’ majority to reopen discussion on the proposed agreement with the wind developers, which would ultimately need to be ratified by a bylaw, since Huron East had already explored and turned down the possibility of passing a bylaw to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of its citizens living near industrial wind turbines on Feb. 21, 2012.
“Because of the motion this council passed in February of 2012, which tried to address these issues by bylaw, we are told with legal opinion, that we can’t enter into a legal agreement because any agreement has to be ratified by bylaw,” explained MacLellan.
“The municipality was provided with advice that such bylaws are outside our legal jurisdiction. We don’t have the right to fight something that isn’t our battle to begin with,” he said.
A recorded vote of 7-4 missed the required two-thirds’ majority by one vote. Voting in favour were Seaforth Coun. Bob Fisher, McKillop Coun. Andrew Flowers, Seaforth Coun. Nathan Marshall, Tuckersmith Coun. Larry McGrath, Grey Coun. Alvin McLellan and Brussels Coun. Frank Stretton. Voting against were Tuckersmith Coun. Les Falconer, Mayor Bernie MacLellan, Deputy-Mayor Joe Steffler and McKillop Coun. Bill Siemon. Brussels Coun. David Blaney declared a conflict of interest and did not vote.
Steffler told the crowd he’d be voting against the motion because of the legal advice the municipality had received.
Ryan pointed out that the municipality of Bluewater passed a bylaw that created “a hefty building permit fee” for wind turbines and asked Huron East to do something similar.
“The legal answer we received is they are stating those actions will not be successful and will probably cost the municipality quite a bit of money,” answered MacLellan.
Ryan responded that he didn’t care how much it cost the municipality since the effects of the proposed turbines will “cost my family and this group of people everything.”
HEAT member Jim Murray asked council how many municipalities have been legally challenged for the bylaws they have passed regarding industrial wind turbines and MacLellan said Huron East’s lawyers did not provide a number.
“I think you’ll find there’s been one,” said Murray.
Virginia Stewart Love, of Grey Highlands, made a presentation to Huron East on behalf of HEAT, explaining the health difficulties she and her neighbours are experiencing living next to industrial wind turbines.
With seven turbines within sight of her home, Stewart said she suffers from sleep deprivation, ringing in the ears, nausea and headaches, all of which she records in a daily journal.
She also spoke of a 35-year-old man who suffers from vertigo and has received a doctor’s advice that he needs a pacemaker since the IWTs were installed while another woman has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, dizziness and depression. A mother and daughter now have migraine headaches and chronic nosebleeds and a young child vomits when driving through the turbine array. One family is preparing to leave their home after their symptoms resumed after returning home from a three-week holiday where their health was temporarily restored.
“On one farm they describe their symptoms as living in hell,” she said. “We all continue to endure the pain of our suffering. Please understand that the Ministry of the Environment and the developer have done nothing to assist us or to mitigate the noise issue. All of our complaints are met with a ‘thank you and please continue to report problems as they arise.’”
Stewart urged Huron East to take a leadership role and become an unwilling host of industrial wind turbines.
“Not everyone suffers these symptoms. But, how many people are we willing to sacrifice in the name of green energy? Huron East has nothing to lose by doing so and everything to gain. There is no sane reason to be putting more people in harm’s way,” she said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding