August 28, 2013

Lawyers review flicker bylaw in Grand Valley

By Chris Halliday | Orangeville Banner | August 27, 2013 |

Grand Valley may have jumped the light flicker bylaw gun just a little.

The town is now circling the wagons and having its lawyer comb through the document after council approved the light flicker ban earlier this summer.

“We’re having a look at the bylaw to see whether or not it will stand the test of time if it was taken to court,” said Mayor John Oosterhof. “Presently, where it stands, we don’t think it would be upheld in the court of law.”

The impetus for the bylaw came about after council received a complaint from Grand Valley resident Denise Broniek about a wind turbine near her home.

When the turbine spins, and the sun sits in a certain point of the sky, the effect caused by the light peering through the moving blades is a source of annoyance.

“It is a freak phenomenon,” Broniek recently wrote to The Banner. “I liken to a light being switched on and off, through our entire home.”

Under the bylaw, any person convicted of an offence could be fined anywhere from $500 to $25,000 on a first offence and up to $50,000 for a subsequent offence.

The punishments are stiffer for corporations, which if convicted, could face a maximum fine of $50,000 on a first offence and up to $100,000 for any after that.

Grand Valley Wind Farms currently operates nine turbines within the town’s boundaries and has plans to add 18 more. Efforts to gain comment from representatives for Veresen Inc., the developing partner of the Grand Valley Wind Farms, have so far been unsuccessful.

“We are currently in discussions with the municipality and when those discussions are complete, we’ll be able to respond further,” Dorreen Miller, director of investor relations and communications for Veresen Inc., told The Banner in an email back in June. “We’re not in a position to do that just now.”

Grand Valley council passed the bylaw back earlier this summer. As Oosterhof explained, council approved it before giving it a quick run past the town’s lawyer.

Oosterhof said the intent of the bylaw – it prohibits any objects in the municipality from creating a cycle of repeating shadows or pulsating light – remains the same.

The town’s lawyers may end up having to tinker with some of the wording or refine some phrases found in the bylaw to account for stipulations in the province’s Green Energy Act.

“If it won’t stand up, we’ll have to make some changes to it. That is what we’re doing,” Oostherhof said. “I don’t know how it is going end up when it is finished. It is hard to say.”

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