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Wainfleet: We don’t want turbines

WAINFLEET – Niagara’s largest geographic municipality has declared itself an “unwilling host” for turbines.

With Premier Kathleen Wynne talking about possible policy changes in the Green Energy Act and stating that communities that don’t want turbines won’t have to host them, Ald. Betty Konc put forward a motion at Tuesday night’s township council meeting to have Wainfleet declared an “unwilling host” for turbines.

The motion passed unanimously.

Wainfleet follows the lead of Grey Highlands, and Prince Edward County and North Perth also expected to follow suit. All four municipalities are part of a committee – called One Voice – formed during a symposium on wind turbines in Wainfleet in late February.

“Wynne said it from the night she was put in the job that willing communities would have wind turbines and unwilling communities wouldn’t. We’re hoping that’s true because she keeps talking about it,” Konc said Wednesday morning.

Konc said One Voice hopes the premier actually follows through with her statements and finds a way to determine which municipalities are willing hosts and which aren’t.

Though Wainfleet has gone on record as being opposed to wind turbines in the community, passing a moratorium against them and passing a bylaw with stricter setbacks than prescribed by the province, the alderman has no doubt there are communities in which turbines are wanted.

“It’s all about the money … proposed vibrancy funds.”

One wind turbine company, she said, offered the township funds that it could use for whatever it wanted, but that was turned down.

“A lot of the communities don’t want the money. It doesn’t matter if it would help, because by taking the money it sends a message that they’re accepting of wind turbines.”

Though health issues pertaining to turbines are a concern for Konc, the bigger issue for her is the financial impact they have. It’s an issue that’s not raised all that much, she added.

She said with people who get sick from wind turbines are just abandoning their homes, and municipalities suddenly lose tax revenue.

“That’s a revenue stream that’s not coming into the municipality.”

The loss of valuable farmland is also a problem, she said. Though a turbine may take up one acre, it leaves a larger footprint, up to three acres, when access roads and underground power supplies are factored in.

“That’s a loss of acreage, and farmers feed cities. We can’t do without food …”

Konc said animals are more sensitive than humans when it comes to low frequency noise generated by wind turbines. If farmers have trouble with raising feed animals near turbines, that’s more revenue lost to them and the community.

“If we continue down this path we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot over this. It’s scary when you start to add things up.”

The alderman said One Voice also came up with some reasonable policy changes the province could implement if Wynne follows through on her promise to revamp the Green Energy Act.

Konc is hoping a face-to-face meeting with the premier and ministers involved can be arranged.

There is a sense of urgency to try and get changes to the act made this month, as Wynne has suggested might happen, said the alderman.

With Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc.’s paperwork before the province and sitting in the queue to be approved, Konc said there’s a possibility its five-turbine project could get in before policy changes are made, especially if the act isn’t changed this month.