Regional council won’t be backing off in its support for two west Niagara municipalities’ turbine fight.
Councillors failed to bring back debate on their backing West Lincoln and Wainfleet as unwilling hosts for wind turbines. Though 16 councillors voted for it and 11 against it, they failed to break the two-thirds majority they needed to revive the issue.
“Democracy prevailed,” said West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner, shaking hands with jubilant wind turbine foes in the corridor outside the temporary council chambers after the vote.
That followed two hours of public delegations as turbine foes and friends lines up for and against wind turbines.
St. Catharines Coun. Ronna Katzman briefly asked councillors to consider the legal ramifications of their move, but debate was not allowed on the vote unless opening it up for debate again succeeded.
“We who are investing millions of dollars need certainty,” said Niagara Region Wind Corporation CEO Mervin Croghan as he addressed council before the vote.
“You’re saying to me, ‘Why should I invest my money in Niagara Region, as a businessman, when you’re not sure about me and what I’m doing?'”
Croghan said his company was drawn to the Region when they passed a detailed wind energy policy.
“Something had to be done to kickstart a new industry to offset the jobs lost by factories closing in this province,” he said.
But West Lincoln resident Shellie Correia said wind turbines are “symbolic value at best.” She said they’re “faux green machines” because of the pollution that goes into building them.
“You should not overturn (the motion) because some rich wind investors don’t like it,” she said.
Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs said the appeal for the Region’s support was intended to “throw (rural Niagara) a few crumbs.
“I look at it as the Region of Niagara being the mama bear who should really be protecting her cubs,” she said.
Virgil Nose, a heavy equipment operator from Beamsville, said his well-being would be affected by moves to block wind turbines.
“We all need good-paying jobs,” he said. “It baffles me when I hear a new industry is coming to the Region and we’re choosing not to support it.”
Nose said the Region’s move came as Niagara College graduated its first class of green energy graduates.
“Do we really want to say to another class of grads in the Region that opportunities for your career only exist outside the region, so goodbye and good luck?” he said.
Late in the meeting, Grimsby Coun. Debbie Zimmerman gave notice she will ask council to declare the Region a willing host for wind turbines.
Thursday, Jeffs said, “I guess we’ll have to cross that when we come to it.” But she praised council for sticking to their guns.
“I really do think that this sends a message to rural Niagara that they get it.”
HOW THEY VOTED
To permit reconsideration of council’s vote to support West Lincoln and Wainfleet as unwilling hosts for wind turbines….
YEA: Couns. Bob Bentley, Doug Martin, Brian Heit, Brian McMullan, George Marshall, Tim Rigby, Brian Baty, Ted Luciani, Debbie Zimmerman, Selina Volpatti, Henry D’Angela, Barb Greenwood, Bill Hodgson, Vance Badawey, Dave Augustyn and Ronna Katzman.
NAY: Couns. Doug Joyner, Bruce Timms, Dave Lepp, Bart Maves, David Barrick, Dan Fortier, Andy Petrowski, Jim Diodati, Barry Sharpe, April Jeffs and Dave Eke.
The motion failed because council did not get a two-thirds majority.
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