Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy will seek council’s support to officially ask the province to halt construction of any wind turbines in the municipality in response to concerns raised about the impact vibrations from the structures are having on local groundwater.
He will present a motion during Monday’s council meeting calling on the municipality to petition the provincial government “to immediately impose a moratorium on further wind development within Chatham-Kent.”
Bondy’s motion calls for the moratorium remaining in effect until an environmental study is completed and an independent consultant determines further turbine development has “no appreciable negative effect on water wells.”
His motion also calls for “involved wind energy companies” to foot the cost of the studies.
The citizen group Water Wells First has been actively raising this issue, pointing to some Dover Township residents who have experienced ongoing turbidity in their water wells, which is believed to be caused by vibrations from wind turbines operating nearby.
Bondy said he’s aware of the issue, because he has a lot of rural customers who have been talking to him about it when coming into his dry cleaning business.
“I’ve had two customers bring in bottles of water to show me (the sediment in it),” he added.
Bondy said a real solution needs to be found, citing giving affected property owners bottled water is nowhere near being adequate.
Although he represents an urban ward and this is a rural issue, Bondy said, “frankly, to be honest, I didn’t see anybody else putting their hand up to address this.”
He noted the expansion of renewable energy across Ontario was done for environmental reasons, “but at the same time, the result of this is devastating the environment under the ground of these people.”
He added people have a right to clean water, especially if it is under their own land.
While Chatham-Kent is a willing host to wind turbines, the approval process for wind farms is done through the province’s Green Energy Act.
Bondy said he believes the municipality “should step up to the plate and protect the interests of our citizens, above and beyond the Green Energy Act and the provincial government, which doesn’t seem to be looking out for the best interests of rural Chatham-Kent.”
The councillor also believes the province has a “moral obligation” to address this problem.
The Water Wells First group is concerned the North Kent 1 Wind Project, which is slated to be built to the east in Chatham Township, will have the same impact on groundwater, because the area has same hydrogeology as Dover.
At a recent public meeting by Water Wells First, it was announced the group is gathering signatures on a petition to call on Chatham-Kent to create a bylaw, through the powers it has under the Municipal Act, to address vibrations from wind turbines, including banning the use of pile-driven foundations in the construction of turbines.
Paul Lacina, Chatham-Kent’s chief building officer, said from what he can tell by reading the Municipal Act is it gives municipalities the ability to develop bylaws for such things as vibrations.
But, he added this issue would need further examination to determine if a bylaw is created to address vibrations from turbines, whether it would contravene other acts and regulations.
“If you’re creating a bylaw specifically just for wind turbines, you can’t just look at that bylaw in a silo, because there’s other acts and regulations that regulate turbines,” Lacina said.
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