Calling it a deflection, Water Wells First is slamming a council motion that asked the province to halt wind turbine construction in Chatham-Kent.
Council passed the motion, entered by Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, on Monday.
However, the citizens’ group said it was simply a case of the municipality “running scared” and trying to legally protect itself.
“We, who live with this construction around us, feel we are living day to day, moment to moment not knowing when we’ll face the hardships of not having water,” Water Wells First said in a statement.
“When is the moment that will strike, when our reliable safe well will become contaminated?”
Five water wells in the North Kent Wind project area, currently under construction by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy, have been clogged with sediments shortly after recent pile-driving took place for constructing industrial wind turbines.
Wesley’s motion also asked the following:
Determine an independent third-party expert, not paid for by the wind turbine company, to be on-call 24-7, agreed to by the affected water well owners, and paid for by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
Identify performance standards by which well owners will have a problem identified and resolved.
Schedule a special meeting with the ministry for a full report.
North Kent Coun. Joe Faas entered a successful amendment asking that Chatham-Kent cover the cost of well testing for the five wells currently experiencing problems. The inspector will be jointly selected by the well owner and the municipality.
However, Water Wells First questioned the impact that council motions will have on the problem.
“We’ve seen motions made, promises made at council meetings before, that in the end didn’t amount to a hill of beans,” the group stated.
Water Wells First stated they believe the North Kent Wind project should be halted immediately.
“Water Wells First will continue civil disobedience actions with the Council of Canadians to stop North Kent Wind,” the group said.
Last year, Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy entered a motion, which didn’t receive the necessary two-thirds vote to get on the floor, asking for a moratorium on turbine construction.
“Council’s done the right thing now, but it’s a year late,” he said on Wednesday. “We were very much aware of this a year ago. … If you wait this long for action, it seems a little sad.”
Bondy credited citizens for taking action and applying pressure to the province, municipality and the company.
“These people never stopped informing us of what was going on,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe wind energy is worth the risk to well water.
However, Mayor Randy Hope said council was acting in good faith with the recent motion.
“Council tried to put their best foot forward to deal with the issue in front of them,” he said Wednesday. “It wasn’t about hiding, it wasn’t about deflecting. It was about the sincerity of the councillors, which has always been since Day 1.”
Hope said he didn’t want to comment on the group suggesting potential legal implications to the municipality.
He said everyone has the right to express their viewpoints on the matter, but added the proper procedure was followed.
“In every part of business, we always respect the environmental processes that are existing,” he said.
The ministry stated it has taken a “cautious, science-based approach when setting standards for renewable energy projects to protect the people of Ontario.”
It also said it recognized the concerns and offered its commitment to working with the municipality.
Pattern Energy released a statement saying it takes the issue seriously and is working with residents.
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