Turbulence in West Lincoln council chambers; Councillor frustrated turbine committee’s recommendations not endorsed
WEST LINCOLN – A newly formed public advisory committee knows it can’t go back in time and change decisions regarding industrial wind turbines. But the West Lincoln Industrial Wind Turbine Advisory Committee is hoping lessons learned can make an impact on future projects in Ontario.
However, councillors on the planning, building, environmental committee think the WTAC’s recommendations need to be cleared up before they can be endorsed.
There was much debate at this week’s planning, building, environmental committee over a set of recommendations from the advisory committee. The recommendations involve reaching out to other municipalities living with wind turbines, joining two organizations and re-emphasizing the township’s status as an unwilling host. Coun. Dave Bylsma, who chairs the committee, said the eight recommendations are the “absolute least” the township can do. He said not approving the committee’s recommendations sends the wrong message to residents.
“If we’re not willing and ready to do those eight, then I honestly don’t think this council cares anymore about the turbine issue,” said Bylsma, after members around the horseshoe debated the motion. “There is nothing offensive in here. It’s about getting information and networking. It commits us to continue working, to continue to network.”
There is little staff or financial obligation in approving the eight recommendations, Bylsma said. Much of the recommendations focus on keeping track of health studies that are happening elsewhere in the province and communicating regularly with those conducting the studies. There is a potential commitment for a noise study down the road, but that would require council approval to move forward.
The financial commitment requested is less than $1,000 – $700 to become a member of the Multi-Municipal Working Group and $100 to join Wind Concerns Ontario.
Coun, Joann Chechalk, who also sits on the advisory committee, said what is most important to the committee is staying on top of what is happening across Ontario.
“What is most important to the committee is to continue monitoring what is going on,” she said, noting they are requesting Bylsma and staff arrange a teleconference call with the Municipality of Grey Highlands which is conducting a noise study.
She said the committee has shifted its focus to stopping the onslaught of wind turbines in the municipality to preventing mistakes from being repeated.
“We want to talk about lessons learned. No more turbines, unless,” she said. “Unless we look at transmission lines and the impacts on the community. Unless we look at proper guardrails …. You don’t have a motion before you that is suggesting we undertake a study. You have a motion for us to go out and work with others who are doing studies.”
There was much confusion over the report, which included a separate set of 24 issues the committee is looking at tackling. After the recommendation was lost, Coun. Terry Bell motioned the committee come back with a more defined set of requests.
“It has to go back to committee so they can clean up their act,” he said. “This is confusing the issue.”
Bylsma said deferring the report back to the committee was “absolutely ridiculous” because the concerns have all been addressed.
“We have clarified this to wazoo,” he said. “I’m very frustrated. A lot of work, hours and hours of work is being dismissed as being unclear. They are very clear. There is no commitment to them. If we cannot agree to the eight, we have no purpose anymore. There is nothing less we can do.”
Coun. Chechalk asked for a recorded vote on the deferral. Bylsma was the only committee member to vote against it.
The matter has been referred back to the advisory committee for clarification and a new report will brought forth at an upcoming committee meeting.
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