Representatives from the 63 municipalities that have declared themselves ‘unwilling hosts’ to wind turbines met Tuesday during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference under way in Ottawa.
Prince Edward County councillor Robert Quaiff is a member of the Wainfleet Working Group that sent the invitations to discuss ways to bring their concerns more forcefully to the government. He was also representing Prince Edward County, which declared itself an “unwilling host”.
“The issues were discussed for two hours on how to move forward,” said Quaiff. “The conclusion was that the most recent announcements by the Ministry of the Environment do not address the concerns at a local level. Encouragement of the Working Group will be supported and continued.”
Kevin Marriott, Mayor of Enniskillen, agreed the government has not addressed concerns of these communities.
“In the Throne Speech and other statements by the Premier, they talked about wanting to locate projects in willing host communities, but there has been no substance to these announcements in terms of municipal input incorporated in the process. Meanwhile, the government continues to approve wind turbine projects without consideration of municipal concerns,” he said.
Some municipal officials represented at AMO have already experienced the impact of wind turbines in their communities.
“Complaints start once they become operational with people being forced from their homes by noise and low frequency noise vibrations,” said Marriott. “These municipalities are looking for the MOE to actually start enforcing the noise standards that they have set and to follow up on the health complaints being filed with Medical Officers of Health.”
Mayor April Jeffs, of Wainfleet, wants the government to start applying learning from these early projects and apply increased set-backs from people’s homes to new projects before they are approved. Wainfleet adopted a two kilometer set-back bylaw being challenged in court by the wind developer.
Quaiff said municipalities are looking for the government to return real local planning authority for wind turbines to local municipalities “powers taken away by the Green Energy Act.”
Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy, is expected to make an announcement about community energy planning and participate in a stakeholder consultation session as part of the review of the Long-Term Energy Plan Wednesday at the conference.