CCSAGE Naturally Green has opened another front in the battle to defend Prince Edward County from industrial wind turbines—and has recruited a phalanx of worthy soldiers ready to resist the invading developers.
Taking their cue from a successful litigation in Ottawa, nearly 400 businesses and property owners in PrinceEdwardCounty have signalled their intention to seek financial compensation if they suffer loss of value as a result of turbines constructed nearby.
Many fear that the arrival of massive 40- storey turbines looming over their homes and business will lead to a loss in revenue and a drop in property values. CCSAGE Naturally Green has spent the past few weeks informing property and business owners of their rights to claim compensation.
The principle was affirmed last year by the Supreme Court of Canada when it ruled that governments cannot diminish private property value without compensating the affected property owner.
The case revolved around a truck stop that found itself essentially put out of business, when a new section of highway 417 restricted direct access to the restaurant and gas bar. The province argued it had not taken any of the claimant’s land and therefore was not obliged to compensate the truck stop.
The claimant made an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and was awarded $335,000 in damages for market value loss. The case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. It ruled that the routing of the new highway represented a substantial interference with the claimant’s property, and reinstated the OMB’s original ruling and compensatory award.
Critical to the issue facing landowners in Prince Edward County is that the Supreme Court described the distinction as “on one hand, interferences that constitute the ‘give and take’ expected of everyone and, on the other, interferences that impose a disproportionate burden on individuals.”
It found that even if the province believed it was acting in the general public’s good, it could not impose a burden upon an individual property owner disproportionately without compensating them.
Likewise, the province argues that industrial wind energy is beneficial to all Ontario residents, yet the burden—in this case loss of property or business value—will be harm specific business and landowners particularly those in the shadows of these massive machines. Such is the basis of the claim that nearly 400 business and landowners are readying to make.
Garth Manning is heading the initiative on behalf of CCSAGE Naturally Green. Manning is a widely respected property lawyer—now retired. He earned the Queen’s Counsel designation and has served as president of the Ontario Bar Association.
Through advertisements in this newspaper and others, as well as in a public meeting in Milford, Manning and his CCSAGE colleagues were able to alert many dozens of folks to their legal right to claim costs through the OMB.
The overwhelming response has surprised even him.
“The probability of a high number of claims if wind turbines are constructed in Prince Edward County is certain,” predicted Manning.
It is neither a silver bullet nor is it a substitute for other measures in defending the County from industrial wind turbines, according to Manning. But this initiative effectively puts industrial wind developers on notice that folks in this County, and elsewhere in Ontario, will actively defend themselves against loss of value.
It may not have an impact on the most ardent developers, but investors in these businesses must now assess another investment risk factor.