OPP officers were required to calm the pandemonium that ensued when four wind turbine bylaws were scheduled to be read at Huron East Council’s Dec. 3 meeting.
After repeated interruptions by the dozens of members of Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) in attendance, Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan engaged two police officers to ensure the meeting would run smoothly, and without further interruption.
At the meeting, council was set to authorize bylaws that would approve road user agreements and community vibrancy funds with both Varna Wind Inc. and the St. Columban Energy Limited Partnership. Only one of the four motions would eventually pass.
Before the bylaws were introduced, HEAT member and Councillor Allison Dekroon made a motion that would defer the four bylaws, calling the documents “hefty”. She said since council only received the documents the Friday before the meeting, members of the public had not been given time to review them and did not have enough time, legally, to request a formal appearance before council that night.
She suggested the bylaws be deferred until the Jan. 7 meeting so council, and members of the public, could do their due diligence.
“We’re not giving the people a voice,” she said.
Councillor Les Falconer, however, disagreed with Dekroon, saying that council had been working on the road user agreements for almost a year, long before Dekroon was even a councillor.
“This has gone back and forth for nine months in closed session,” Falconer said.
Dekroon said she felt the province’s ombudsman would have a problem with council rushing the documents through. MacLellan disagreed.
He said that while the proposed bylaws had not been posted to the municipality’s website ahead of the Dec. 4 meeting, that simply wasn’t a practice of council.
He said it wasn’t a case of staff not posting the bylaws because they were wind-related, just that it had never been done in the municipality’s history.
It was at this time that MacLellan began discussing the proposed community vibrancy funds with the two companies, which would provide money to the municipality based on the amount of power produced and the length of transmission lines run throughout Huron East.
Shouting from HEAT members in the gallery began, saying that the money would be made “on the backs” of Huron East residents, and that it was “blood money”.
MacLellan told those in the gallery that if they couldn’t control themselves, he would move the meeting into another, smaller room in town hall, where members of the local media would be allowed, but not HEAT members.
After repeated interruption, MacLellan began to move the meeting into the hall’s back room, at which time dozens of HEAT members streamed toward both of the room’s entrances.
After a lengthy recess and the arrival of OPP officers, MacLellan restarted the meeting, saying that the OPP had instructions to, on the mayor’s word, remove anyone interrupting the meeting.
Almost immediately after the meeting was brought back into session, HEAT co-founder Gerry Ryan began yelling and heckling council, even daring MacLellan to eject him from the meeting. “Do it Bernie, do it,” he said to the mayor.
MacLellan obliged Ryan, instructing an OPP officer to remove him from the meeting.
On his way out, however, Ryan told MacLellan that what he and Chief Administrative Officer Brad Knight were doing was wrong.
“You’ve stepped on democracy,” Ryan said on his way out of the meeting. “You’ve got no conscience.”
After the road user agreement bylaw with Varna Wind Inc. was approved by council, Dekroon made a motion that would direct council to only read the road user agreement bylaw with St. Columban Energy a first and second time, without confirming it with a third and final reading.
The motion stated that council would bring the bylaw back at council’s next meeting, on Dec. 17, to be read for a third and final time. This would give members of the public an opportunity to appear before council as a delegation at that meeting and speak against the bylaws if they wish.
That motion passed, as did an identical motion to defer third and final reading of another bylaw which would authorize a community vibrancy fund with Varna Wind Inc., which will also return to council at the Dec. 17 meeting.
The fourth bylaw, which was to authorize a community benefits fund agreement with St. Columban Energy, was not allowed to proceed, as it was tied to the approval of the St. Columban Energy road user agreement, which had not passed.
The three bylaws awaiting third and final reading will return to council at the Dec. 17 meeting.
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