The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) is looking to regulate wind turbines.
On Sept. 12, the board passed a resolution directing staff to not process any future applications until regulations are developed for noise, height, engineering and other impacts.
The decision comes after the SCRD issued its first building permit for a wind-powered electrical generator recently in Roberts Creek.
“While there is general support for green power such as small-scale wind generation on the Sunshine Coast, it remained a neighbourhood concern as to how to regulate structures of this kind and any potential side-effects of its continual operation,” chief building inspector Peter Longhi and senior planner David Rafael reported to the planning and development committee during its Sept. 12 meeting.
The staff report said there are no regulations governing wind turbines in the building code – except for foundations – and only zoning regulations related to property setbacks apply.
Although a height limit of 11 metres is set for all buildings and structures, exceptions under the zoning bylaw include windmills on parcels of 4,000 square metres or more.
Among the public concerns raised by the Roberts Creek application was noise from the turbine possibly affecting wildlife and disturbing the peace of residents. As a result of concerns, the report said, the owner agreed to relocate the generator to a distance where the potential impact would be reduced.
The staff report said Ontario appears to be the only province in Canada that has adopted local standards for wind-generation structures. B.C. has a land-use policy for wind farms on Crown land, with the maximum allowed sound level outside neighbouring dwellings set at 40 decibels.
The SCRD’s noise control bylaw does not include a specific noise level as trigger, but instead “relies on a determination of what is an unacceptable noise level that disturbs the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity.”
A review of the noise control bylaw will be part of the staff report presenting regulatory options.
Staff will also review the SCRD’s height exemptions, which apply as well to church spires, chimneys, flag poles, masts, aerials, fire hall hose drying towers, water tanks, domes, public monuments, observation towers, transmission towers, elevators and ventilation machinery, and farm buildings including silos.
The only condition is that structures occupy no more than 10 per cent of the parcel’s surface, or if situated on a building, not more than 15 per cent of the roof area.
The staff report identifies domes as one form of development that could cause future conflicts due to its exemption from the 11-metre limit.