It was standing room only as hundreds turned out to a public meeting on Oct. 1 to weigh in on the future of industrial wind turbines in Greater Napanee.
Greater Napanee town council held a special meeting at the South Fredericksburgh hall to discuss and hear concerns from members of the public regarding future construction of industrial wind turbines in the municipality.
The meeting follows Coun. Mike Schenk’s motion, put forward at a council meeting on August 13, that proposes Greater Napanee should advise the Ministry of the Environment that the municipality is an “unwilling host” for industrial wind turbines.
Schenk put forward the motion after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made a statement about limiting industrial wind turbine projects to communities that are willing hosts.
“I think the meeting went quite well, despite this being a contentious and emotional issue,” said Schenk days after the meeting took place. “The residents of Greater Napanee definitely voiced their concerns.”
Nearly 400 people packed the hall and expressed concerns over property values, inadequate setbacks between the turbines and homes, health issues, and the effects that industrial wind turbines would have on the residents, general landscape, and wildlife if installed.
Gilead Power, a Canadian-owned company based in Port Perry, has been exploring South Fredericksburgh and approaching landowners about developing their proposed Dorland Wind Project. The company submitted a letter to council, which was presented in the agenda at the open house meeting.
In the letter, Gilead Power president Michael Lord stated: “The proposed Dorland project is currently in the feasibility stage of development. We have been assessing the wind resource since 2008 and have completed a preliminary review of environmental features in the area.”
The letter closes with the following statement:
“The Dorland project has the potential to bring significant economic investment to the Town of Greater Napanee,” said Lord. “This opportunity will be jeopardized if council approves the motion to declare the Town of Greater Napanee an unwilling host for wind turbine development. I encourage you to listen to all sides of this issue with consideration to the proposed changes to the procurement process the (Ontario Power Authority) is working towards and support this proposed project.”
Despite the company’s words, the feedback from local residents was overwhelmingly opposed to the construction of industrial wind turbines in Greater Napanee.
“I think that there were a few people who supported these things at the meeting, but only one person had the gumption to admit it,” said Peter McGrath, a farmer in the southern end of the municipality, who attended the meeting.
McGrath said he’s “never seen a meeting like it, with that many people.”
He’s fundamentally opposed to installation of wind turbines in Greater Napanee.
“I’m a farmer out here, it’s not like I couldn’t sign up and look to implement one of these as well, but I have no interest in doing this, really,” said McGrath. “It doesn’t make sense for this area. Don’t get me wrong—I do agree with green technology, wind mills, all these things. But there’s a place for them, and not in a residential area. This is a smaller area. When they say 550-foot setback from people’s homes, it’s not much a setback and these won’t be looking good in the whole area. They’ll be really detrimental.”
Carl Barclay, a 28-year resident of South Shore Road, expressed his concern about the possibility of landowners signing up with Gilead Power to house industrial turbines on their properties.
He wrote about this concern in a correspondence to council.
“My understanding is that there are only under 20 landowners who have signed options at this time,” wrote Barclay. “It does not seem right that they can so seriously affect the health, standard of living and the finances of the vast majority of the other residents.”
The issue will be further discussed and a decision made for or against the motion at a regular council meeting on Oct. 8.
“Rather than it being a war or a battle with the provincial government, we’re hoping the provincial government will respect the wishes of the residents in the area,” said Schenk. “That’s what I would hope, if it passes at council. It wouldn’t be too good (if it doesn’t pass) because there’s a lot of other reasons. This is a flyway for birds, this is also a flyway for Trenton Air Base, there’s a lot of other factors, but property values is the main thing. There are health reasons also, which people have mentioned, and the setbacks, plus it’s being said that there is a lot of excess power being generated, and Ontario Hydro is basically paying some of the winter turbines not to produce power that are currently in operation. It’s a no-win situation.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding