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Fight was worth it: Jeffs; Judge deems 2-km setback bylaw ‘invalid’ and without force  

Credit:  Luke Edwards | Apr 19, 2013 | www.niagarathisweek.com ~~

Though it was officially a defeat, Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs isn’t taking the court decision regarding its 2-km wind turbine setback bylaw as a total loss.

“We grabbed the attention of the public,” she said.

The decision on the case was rendered last Friday. Wainfleet enacted a bylaw last year that required a 2-km setback for turbines, which goes against the province’s Green Energy Act. It stipulates the setback should be set at 550 metres.

Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. and Rankin Construction, which are planning turbine projects in the township, appealed the bylaw.

“We’re not going to stop here, but I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” Jeffs said.

Township council has been a staunch opponent to turbine projects. While Jeffs said the efforts they made may not impact planned projects in Wainfleet, the fact they’ve been able to bring like-minded municipalities together and raise awareness about industrial turbines is a positive for the future.

“If our efforts help change the Green Energy Act for future municipalities (it’s a positive),” Jeffs said.

“I still think it (the bylaw) was the right thing to do.”

With the case resolved, Jeffs said the township must now pay the roughly $200,000 in legal fees. The township had already budgeted for half that, and a legal fund has been set up by regional councillor Andy Petrowski to raise further funds. Jeffs said she’s hoping that fund can bite into the roughly $100,000 left to cover the costs.

Despite that the mayor said she’s still been hearing a lot of support from residents.

“I’ve received emails telling us not to give up,” she said.

In his decision, Justice Reid ruled the bylaw was “invalid and without force and effect” due to the vague definition of property in the township’s bylaw.

Ald. Betty Konc said the decision is really a win for the township.

“We were well within our jurisdiction. If we had a better definition of property we may have won,” she said.

Konc said the ruling paves the way for other municipalities currently facing similar issues. She said those municipalities may be able to draft bylaws with stronger language.

In his decision Reid also considered whether the bylaw was outside the municipality’s authority. Because the Municipal Act grants broad authority to municipalities to regulate things like nuisance, noise, health and safety, the justice ruled the bylaw was within Wainfleet’s authority under the Municipal Act.

“The judge has said, ‘you do have jurisdiction,” Konc said.

Source:  Luke Edwards | Apr 19, 2013 | www.niagarathisweek.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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