Council in the Municipality of Central Huron wants a legal opinion before deciding whether one of its councillors will view names on a “secret” petition opposed to wind energy development in that municipality.
It is expected to ask its lawyer whether Coun. Marg Anderson has any responsibility to make public a petition with more than 500 signatures if she follows up on an offer from Central Huron Against Turbines (CHAT) to review the names.
A CHAT representative recently told council they collected the confidential signatures in a door-to-door campaign that ended in the summer of 2012, concentrating on proposed development areas for Twenty Two Degree Wind Energy and Summerhill Wind Energy projects.
Coun. Burkhard Metzger, who championed declaring Central Huron as an unwilling host for wind energy projects, said the petition was mentioned in his resolution and “the question is, does it exist.”
He said if a wind energy developer came to council and said there was a petition with 500 signatures in favour of wind energy development but told council it could not see the names, he would want to see them.
Coun. Alison Lobb asked councillors to support a motion requesting CHAT file a copy of the petition with the municipal office, but her motion was defeated.
“Are you telling me when you went around to all these people, you said ‘it’s going to be a big secret, we’ll never tell anybody you signed it. So sign your kids’ names, sign your parents’ names, sign your friends’ names. Let’s get them all down and nobody will ever know,’” she said. In a recorded vote of 4-3, her motion was defeated. Mayor Jim Ginn, and councillors Lobb and Dan Colquhoun were in favour of asking CHAT to file a copy of the petition, while councillors Burkhard Metzger, Alex Westerhout, Marg Anderson and Brian Barnim were opposed. Deputy Mayor Dave Jewitt was absent.
A new motion delegating Anderson to review the petition and its signatures was deferred until council receives a legal opinion.
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