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West Lincoln not a willing host to turbines; Alderman’s motion of declaration receives unanimous support

West Lincoln is not a willing host.

That is the message council is sending to Premier Kathleen Wynne, several of her Liberal ministers, Niagara Region, the Association of Municipalities Ontario, the local utility company and the proponents of two separate wind farms planned for the municipality. Ald. Joanne Chechalk brought forward a motion at Monday’s planning, building and environment committee meeting to declare the municipality an unwilling host to industrial wind turbines. The motion cites a lack of information on long-term health effects, potential negative impacts on property values and long-term negative economic implications to the community resulting from the two applications before the provincial government for approval as the reasons the township is unwilling to become a home for towering industrial wind turbines.

Wynne became premier in February, just four months after former premier Dalton McGuinty resigned as party leader. Since taking the post, Wynne has repeatedly conveyed her government’s desire to limit wind farms to communities that have indicated they are willing hosts.

Since then, a handful of Ontario municipalities, about 20 according to the leader of a local citizen’s action group, have signed similar resolutions to the one presented by Chechalk Monday.

Prior to the meeting Monday, about 100 wind turbine opponents gathered in front of township hall to rally their cause. Marching in front of a giant sign reading: ‘Not a willing host’, residents carried placards expressing their opposition to the roughly 50 turbines to be erected in the municipality.

“This shows solidarity between a majority of West Lincoln residents and council and sends a clear message to the province,” said Neil Switzer, chairman of the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group which formed in October 2010. “We do not want any industrial wind turbines in this municipality.”

With more municipalities sending similar motions to the premier’s office, Switzer said he had hope.

“Maybe the province will finally hear the voices of the local citizens,” he said, noting it has been a long three years fighting to restore the rights of local citizens.

While committee discussed Chechalk’s motion, just down the street, at Smithville District Christian High School, WLWAG held an information meeting. The meeting, which featured guest speaker Parker Gallant, a retired banker and Financial Post writer, was targetted to residents who won’t be living next to the towering giants.

“This will cost everyone,” said Switzer of the province’s push to increase renewable energy production to 10,000 megawatts by 2018. “It’s not just a one-time deal like the gas plants, this is the something we’ll all be paying for for the next 20 years.”

Gallant, who is also vice president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said the past weekend was a milestone for Ontario’s wind production. However, that milestone production equates to a large economic loss for the province.

Figures from the Independent Electricity System Operator recording wind power generation in Ontario from 7 p.m. on Friday, May 10, 2013 (off-peak rates kick in for the weekend) through to midnight May 12, 2013 show that wind produced 58,165 megawatt hours (MWh) and beat their old hourly production record several times.

“It cost us $10 million over the weekend for energy that we didn’t even use,” Gallant told The News outside township hall Monday. “This past weekend was quite the party for wind power. Unfortunately, Ontario electricity customers are stuck with a very large bill for power we didn’t really need.”

Following Gallant’s presentation and a question and answer period, WLWAG screened the CBC Doc Zone documentary Wind Rush.