Unlike other Elgin county municipalities, West Elgin Thursday declared itself an unwilling host to wind turbines.
Council took only 25 minutes to vote unanimously in favour of the resolution, in front of a gallery of 50 at a meeting held in the Rodney Fire Station training room.
The meeting brings to a head two previous public meetings held on the issue since the public learned developers have been meeting with property owners in the area over the past year to get leases signed that would allow approximately 30 towers to be erected in West Elgin.
From the beginning, most residents have opposed allowing wind turbines based on the belief they cause health problems, result in property being devalued and are not that efficient.
However, residents and council are bitter Ontario’s Green Energy Act gives them little control over land use issues and other related topics that would allow either control or the power to deny them locating.
After one public meeting, 74 people used a response form to let council know how they felt. Seventy responses opposed wind turbines, three supported them.
“The Green Energy Act was enforced on all Ontarians,” Coun Norm Miller said. “It allows very little local input. I’m not in favour of those types of tactics.”
“On health issues and property values, I’m not sure we’ll know the effects of these things until 20 years from now,” said Coun Dug Aldred. “ I think we have to look beyond the Green Energy Act.
He noted there is no more farmland to find in West Elgin and the prospect of bringing in new industry is weak because of vacant factories everywhere.
That leave’s West Elgin’s best hope for the future as marketing itself as somewhere people want to come to live, such as the proposed development at Port Glasgow.
Faced with those options, the municipality cannot support wind turbines and hoeing to attract newcomers at the same time, Aldred said.
Mayor Bernie Wiehle said if West Elgin was an unwilling host, it would have to say why in a resolution.
“If we go as an unwilling host., we would be going against the grain in Elgin county,” he said.
Miller added the financial rewards for the municipality to welcome turbines don’t seem that good compared to the potential health risks and environmental damage.
“We have a hope that we have something to build in New Glasgow (Seaside).” Aldred said. “I have a feeling that if the turbines were allowed north of Gray of Line, Seaside would not be built.”
Wiehle said he was disappointed the province did not allow more local input on the issue.
“The worst part is that the decision we make today might mean nothing,” he said. “Wind turbines will sterilize communities for at least a one-kilometre radius.”
He credited the companies promoting the wind turbines for being excellent to deal with.
At least one has formed the Glasgow Shores Renewable Energy Co-operative.
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