Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) is encouraging Huron East Council to go with its gut and not change its mind on a vibrancy fund offered by St. Columban Wind Energy that council rejected last year.
Jeanne Melady of HEAT spoke to council at its Jan. 20 meeting, saying that the stance of the wind turbine opposition group has not changed since the issue was first up for consideration over one year ago. The group still has many concerns with the proposed agreement, none of which have been addressed in the last year.
MacLellan suggested raising the issue once again late last year at the first meeting of the new council after the October election. He said he felt the time was right to revisit the issue.
Melady told council that she felt “common sense” was required when considering the issue, specifically the rights council would be “giving up” by agreeing to enter into such a contract.
First, she said, members of the group resented becoming the “sacrificial lamb” that was being seen as standing in between the municipality and some revenue.
Some Huron East residents, she said, have made negative comments towards the group, saying it’s keeping the municipality from the money. Melady suggests that one thing is not related to the other and the group shouldn’t be demonized for its stance against wind turbines, just because there is money on the other side of the scale.
The group is also concerned about how the municipality agreeing to the fund would influence bylaws or motions passed by Huron East Council. Melady said that in the contract, the company has the right to terminate the fund if council were to pass any policies that would hinder the wind turbine project.
“This does not allow anything to get in the way [of the project],” Melady said, adding that a “quiet nights” bylaw council had been exploring at one time would have to be “off the books” if the fund were to be approved.
She also quoted some research that had been conducted by Wind Concerns Ontario saying that no company – wind turbine or otherwise – can legally have the right to direct municipal policy. If a policy suggests otherwise, all it is is a bribe, Melady said.
She also told council she was concerned about what taking the money would communicate to the company on behalf of the municipality.
If a company wants to bring wind turbines to Huron East, she said, and the municipality accepts money as a result, if the municipality needs more money, a wind turbine company could simply bring more wind turbines to the area.
She said a transaction like that is a “slippery slope” that council shouldn’t want to be on.
Melady and the members of HEAT encouraged council to “find another way” to fill what “must be a shortfall” in the municipal budget somewhere.
She also suggested that Huron East Council entering into a vibrancy fund agreement could have consequences in the ongoing appeal process related to the project and several others throughout Ontario, including the proposed K2 wind project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh.
At the heart of the issue, Melady said, is the alleged adverse health effects related to wind turbines. She referenced the Health Canada study stating no direct link between wind turbines and adverse health effects, but said the term “annoyance” is used in the study and it could very well prove to be an important term in the ongoing fight against wind turbines.
She said annoyance, as a medical term, and its effects, could be the link between wind turbines and adverse health effects, but that it has yet to be proven.
In closing, Melady asked council to not reconsider its stance from last year which turned down the fund, saying it was a thoughtful decision at the time and there’s no reason to revisit a decision arrived at after a thoughtful process.
Council accepted Melady’s presentation and asked no questions of her.
In an interview after the meeting, Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan stated that no timeline has been set for the discussion pertaining to revisiting the fund. He says that whenever council wants to have that discussion, he would encourage it, but it still remains to be seen if St. Columban Wind Energy would even offer the fund again if council were to return over one year after rejecting it.
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