Norfolk County is no longer “a willing host” for further wind turbine development.
Norfolk council passed a resolution to this effect Tuesday. In doing so, the county becomes the 18th municipality to tell the province that it opposes the approval of additional industrial wind turbines within its boundaries.
Simcoe Coun. Charlie Luke sponsored the motion, which was based on a similar resolution recently passed by the Township of Wainfleet.
Rural municipalities began teeing up their motions after Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested recently that the Ontario Liberals will be more sensitive to the situating of wind turbines now that Dalton McGuinty is no longer in charge.
“It’s worth a try,” Luke said. “Our residents are fed up with this. They’re tired of it. This is the very least we can do for our residents. If we don’t support this motion, don’t be surprised if the province comes back on us and says `You had your chance.'”
Norfolk County and other municipalities have experienced a significant backlash against turbines since the first ones were approved nearly 10 years ago.
There have been complaints of mysterious health effects, diminished property values and blighted landscapes. Luke is especially concerned that the industrialization of the Norfolk countryside is coming at the expense of the county’s appearance.
“We are dotting our rural landscape with these steel structures poking up out of our natural beauty,” Luke said. “When I think 100 years ahead, I don’t see this as being what our county is about.”
The vote in favour of the motion was 8-1. The lone dissenter was Windham Coun. Jim Oliver. Oliver asked why council was potentially tying its hands when there are remote areas of Norfolk where turbines might be appropriate.
Oliver added that council may potentially be depriving area farmers of an alternative revenue stream while sending the wrong message on new investment. There are vocal opponents of wind turbines in Norfolk, Oliver said, but he suspects they are in the minority. He pleaded with council to give the federal government and the province time to complete a new round of studies into turbines and their potential impacts on human health.
“We have only heard this message from a very small number of residents,” Oliver said. “We should wait for and be bound by these health studies.”
A total of 48 wind turbines in the Erie Shores Wind Farm in the southwest corner of the county are located in Norfolk. Another 13 will be located northeast of Port Dover as part of the Capital Power wind farm, which will be centered on the Nanticoke Industrial Park. Boralex has assumed control of the four-turbine installation proposed for Port Ryerse.
Mayor Dennis Travale reminded council that Luke’s resolution is not binding on the province. That, he said, would require an amendment to the Green Energy Act. However, the mayor added that passing the resolution would let the Wynne government know in no uncertain terms where the county stands.
“The premier has indicated that if you are not a willing host, she wants to know,” the mayor said. “This motion indicates that we are not a willing host. Sure, money is important. But do we value money more than our people?”
Travale also shared with council that he recently had a discussion about wind turbines with Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt. Travale said Haldimand council intends to pass a resolution similar to the Wainfleet motion shortly.
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