West Elgin council last week stood firm on its resolution from a year ago to remain a non-willing host to industrial wind turbines.
Council moved the discussion on the item from the regular council meeting to the training room at the Rodney fire hall to make room for a larger gallery.
RES, the proponents of the Erie Shores wind farm in West Elgin, had made a formal request to council to withdraw its resolution from 2014 declaring itself a non-willing host to industrial wind turbines.
RES is one of many companies in the province preparing to bid Sept. 1 for the right to operate a wind farm on properties landowners have signed agreement leases.
However, wind turbines have met stubborn and solid opposition from citizen’s groups since the public became aware of the RES proposal.
Earlier this month, a public meeting at the Rodney Legion confirmed what the majority of residents have said since issue came to light in West Elgin: they don’t support industrial wind turbines locating in the municipality.
Last week, administration collected approximately 600 comment forms from citizens detailing why they don’t want turbines.
“The attempt by RES to place industrial wind turbines in West Elgin has been one of the most frustrating and divisive issues that I have ever experienced,” Mac Ford, co-chairman of the West Elgin Residents Opposed to Wind Turbines told the meeting.
Ford noted 605 comment forms were turned in after the public meeting with 585 against turbines, citing reasons such as health concerns, impact on tourism, destruction of natural habitat and property devaluation.
“The strong opinions of the West Elgin people who returned forms against industrial wind turbines indicate that council should reaffirm our position of unwilling host and should not sign any agreements with RES,” Ford said.
The group also requested West Elgin send a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association asking them to respect its position and re-affirming its commitment to being a non-willing host.
“West Elgin is a tourism area,” noted Coun. Richard Leatham. “Why would we want to ruin it?”
He noted developers for the future Seaside project in Port Glasgow have stated wind turbines would not help them market homes.
On a recorded vote, council was unanimous in favour of re-affirming its non-willing host resolution.
“There is not enough information to make any other decision,” stressed Mayor Bernie Wiehle.
He noted West Elgin, like all other municipalities, had almost all power to oppose or manage planning for wind turbines taken away through Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
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