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Wainfleet continues push against wind turbines; Wants province to review its renewable energy process

WAINFLEET – Council wants a second look.

Last week township council voted to approve a motion by Alderman Betty Konc calling on the province to review its current renewable energy process. Konc explained the motion is yet another attempt for the town to gain some traction in the continued effort to stop wind turbine development in the area.

“It’s a motion born out of frustration,” said Konc, noting under the current Green Energy Act the township cannot outright stop the construction of turbines that some have associated with health risks and declining property values.

The township did attempt to initiate a two-kilometre setback requirement for turbines, a move later quashed in court.

“They need to stop this nonsense,” said Konc of the province, adding, “we have the right to say we don’t want a Tim Hortons, we don’t want a gas plant … the whole countryside’s democratic rights have been taken away.”

In 2013 the Ministry of Environment approved construction of a nine-megawatt wind farm. The IPC Energy project is collaboration between Loeffen Farms and Rankin construction. The township has officially declared itself an unwilling host for wind development and has repeatedly tried to stop further development.

Konc expects problems in the future, especially when the turbines reach the end of their lifecycles and have to be taken down. She fears that cost may be left up to the municipality.

“It’s going to wind up costing the taxpayers,” said Konc, whose motion was approved just one day before the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal rejected an appeal from Skydive Burnaby to halt the construction of two turbines, part of a larger five-turbine project, on Station Road just 1.5 km west of their facility. The business had cited safety concerns for parachutists and planes that could collide with the turbines or be impacted by turbulence caused by the blades. The township contributed $40,000 to Skydive Burnaby for court costs, a move that has resulted in a lawsuit from Rankin Construction.

Konc admitted the timing of her motion isn’t perfect with a provincial election underway. She explained when she first introduced the motion the writ had yet to be dropped.

“With an election facing us I don’t know if it is going to get anyone’s attention,” said Konc, adding, “but it’s our little effort to get the government to sit up and take notice.”