WILLIAMSBURG – The South Branch Wind Opposition Group had council’s ear at a special meeting July 8.
The purpose of the meeting was to allow the opposition group to have an open discussion with council about the wind project that will see 10 industrial wind turbines installed around Dixon’s Corners, Brinston, Hulbert and Glen Stewart.
President of the opposition group, Leslie Disheau bombarded council with facts, figures and studies supporting the group’s argument that South Dundas should declare that it is “Not a Willing Host” to this or any other industrial wind project.
So far, 76 municipalities across the province have already made this declaration.
Although municipal governments don’t have the power to prohibit wind developments from taking place within their boundaries, according to Disheau and the SBWOG, they do have the power to exert some regulatory control through easily enforceable bylaws to provide some protection to its residents against certain nuisances, such as noise and shadow flicker.
Disheau explained that shadow flicker nuisance can easily be mitigated by shutting down certain turbines at certain times of the day.
She also said that for some residents living in the area, who already have a history of epilepsy, or for those with autistic children the effects of shadow flicker could be much more than a nuisance.
However, without municipal regulation, there is little requiring the wind project operators to reduce these effects.
For noise, she suggested a bylaw that would require, for example, quiet nights again requiring the shutdown of the turbines during certain hours.
She too suggested that municipality should consider appropriate building permit and development fees, and be sure to have in place a process to ensure that appropriate funds are there to cover the cost of decommissioning the turbines.
Disheau brought into question the validity of some of the information gathered and submitted by the proponent, such as an ice throw study predicting an extremely minute chance of ice debris from a turbine impacting a passing car, as it was based on a turbine in the Shanly area that is no longer part of the project and the surrounding low traffic flow roads.
Disheau and the SBWOG would like to see more relevant information calculated regarding the chance of collision using one of the turbines in close proximity to the well travelled County Road 16.
Disheau also questioned the validity of the bird kill study and brought up the importance of the threatened Bobolink that is known to inhabit the Brinston area.
She too expressed concern over the effect pile driving for turbines will have on area wells and water quality.
Disheau also covered safety concerns, regarding the possibility of a turbine fire, dirty electricity and television interference that could effect satellite and internet service in the area.
Disheau told council about the decrease in property values, the people that are moving because of the project and the people that are choosing not to relocate to the area because of the project.
She presented council with 108 signatures of those in the Dixon’s Corners, Brinston, Hulbert, Glen Stewart area who support the South Branch Wind Opposition Group in their effort to have South Dundas declare it is not a willing host.
“We pounded the pavement and had a lot of very engaging conversations with people,” said Disheau. “People have opinions and they want to express their concerns.”
These opinions have also divided the community, according to Disheau. She has see the effects of this herself at church, and has heard much about the division in talking to people in the community.
Having now fully heard from the SBWOG, council decided that they need to hear from EDP Renewables, the proponent of the South Branch wind development, before deciding whether or not to declare South Dundas “Not a willing host.”
They plan to hear from EDP at next week’s council meeting.
Disheau had organized a tour of the Wolfe Island wind farm for council. The mayor and deputy mayor had toured Wolfe Island already that day so they declined to offer. Councillor Jim Graham, to said he has already seen many wind projects and didn’t see a need for the tour. Councillor Evonne Delegarde did take Disheau up on the offer, as she has not yet been to Wolfe Island since the wind turbines were installed.
South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan did attend the council meeting to hear Disheau’s presentation, but will not be voting on the matter as he has declared conflict of interest.