Residents of Lambton County are being asked to donate $300,000 to join a potentially precedent-setting charter case, questioning the Ontario government’s approach to industrial wind turbines with inconclusive data about how they affect people’s health.
“We’re nearly certain it’ll go to the Supreme Court, so we need to get there,” said Ingrid Willemsen, a director with the group We’re Against Industrial Turbines Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW), at a packed town hall meeting in Camlachie Monday.
The group, which opposes Suncor’s planned 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Power Project, is looking for the dollars to hire noted human rights lawyer Julian Falconer, and join other communities embroiled in wind turbine battles in taking their case before Ontario’s judiciary.
Willemsen said the group expects Ontario’s Environment Ministry to approve the Suncor project, and will need a lawyer to appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal, and potentially other courts.
“We need to have our case, our project, listed with the legal challenge from the Falconer firm because we will benefit from the outcome,” she said.
The Toronto-based firm already represents several communities in Ontario.
Falconer, addressing a crowd of about 500 inside the community centre, while others stood outside because there was no more room, said the provincial government’s approach to wind turbines in Ontario is akin to forcing people to swallow untested pills.
Health Canada is currently studying the effects from wind turbines, amid complaints of nausea, dizziness, and other symptoms from people who live near turbines. Ontario though has continued to build wind turbines.
Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, has said there is no “direct causal link” between wind turbines and the reported health effects.
“Before you can avoid swallowing the pill, you have to prove it’s going to kill you?” Falconer asked. “Have they lost their bloody minds?”
The case hinges on the argument that it’s unconstitutional for governments to subject people by law to something that may hurt them, he said.
He cautioned that the case is a “test case” and there’s no guarantee of success.
“We don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” he said. “We just know if you do nothing, there will be wind turbines everywhere.”
He called on provincial politicians to pledge they’ll impose a moratorium on new wind turbine construction until the health effects are known.
The court case is the backup plan in case that doesn’t happen, he said.
“If Health Canada is spending millions studying something, doesn’t that mean they don’t know the answer?” he asked.
Willemsen called the investment an insurance policy, for people’s health and property values.
“Hopefully they’ll all contribute,” said Phil Policelli, 60, who was at the meeting. “But not all of us have deep pockets, so it’s hard to get that money.”
The Camlachie resident said it should fall to the government to make the decision.
“And then we have to hold the government responsible,” he said. “And if that means throwing them out of power, we the voting public will do that.”
Lambton County council last fall agreed to financially back a legal battle before Ontario’s Energy Review Tribunal to block wind turbine construction in Huron County. Councillors voted to label Lambton County an unwilling host to wind turbines earlier this year.
As well as awaiting provincial environmental approval for its Cedar Point project, Suncor has taken the Town of Plympton-Wyoming to court over several of its bylaws aimed at wind turbines.
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