Enniskillen Township has joined a growing number of Ontario municipalities declaring that industrial wind farms aren’t welcome within their boundaries.
Mayor Kevin Marriott said his council passed a motion this week calling itself an unwilling host, and he was at Queen’s Park in Toronto Thursday when Liberal and New Democrat MPPs defeated a Tory bill – 40 votes to 33 – that would have, among other measures, returned some local municipal control over wind projects.
Several wind companies have been active in Enniskillen Township, looking for land to lease for turbine projects, and a citizens’ group has formed there to oppose them.
At a press conference in Toronto before Thursday’s vote Marriott spoke about the division that wind turbines create in rural municipalities like his.
“The Green Energy Act has been nothing short of a nightmare for our community,” he said of the provincial legislation that took away local municipal planning control over renewable energy projects.
“We feel like our democracy has been stripped away.”
Marriott said he went to Toronto this week feeling hopeful about the bill’s chances.
“Seven votes really isn’t that much to lose by, “ Marriott said, adding he noticed several Liberal MPPs who were in the legislature earlier in the day who weren’t there for the vote.
“Maybe they would like to have voted for the bill, but just couldn’t because of party lines.”
Marriott said he has tried to stay “party neutral” during his years on Enniskillen’s municipal council.
“But, this has definitely made me a strong Tory now, regardless of what my leanings were before this whole issue came up,” he said.
“I would definitely consider buying a Conservative membership over this.”
Although Thursday’s vote failed, Marriott said he sees signs wind farm opponents may be gaining momentum.
“There’s a real growing list of municipalities across Ontario that have passed an unwilling host motion.”
Marriott said he expects they will come together as a group to encourage more municipalities to do the same.
“The group is moving pretty quick to get the numbers up.”
The recent Ontario throne speech promised communities would have a say in the location of new energy projects.
“We’re taking them up on that,” Marriott said, “and saying, ‘Ok, we’re not willing hosts.’”
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