The president of Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a volunteer-led coalition of 30 community groups and many Ontario families, has filed a private prosecution against the Honourable Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), for violating Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA).
Private prosecutions are important tools in empowering private citizens to hold those persons in power to account.
The EPA prohibits anyone from permitting the “discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect.” Adverse effects listed in the EPA include “an adverse effect on the health of any person,” “harm or material discomfort to any person” and “loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.” (Section 14 subsections 1 and 2)
“We don’t take this step lightly,” says Jane Wilson, WCO President and a Registered Nurse, “but with the MOECC not responding to thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, which is affecting sleep and health for Ontario families, we had no choice. These are examples of adverse effects that Minister Ballard should not be permitting to continue.”
WCO recently received MOECC documents under a Freedom of Information request that showed thousands of unresolved reports of noise, many with staff notes about sleep disturbance and health impacts. Between 2006 and 2016, there were more than 4,500 recorded reports, 35% of which contained staff notes about adverse health effects; between 2015-2016, the MOECC response rate to the reports of excessive noise was less than 7%.
“Citizens report going without sleep for days, weeks, even months,” said Wilson. “Sleep disturbance is linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Mr. Ballard, as steward of environmental protection in Ontario, is responsible for allowing this environmental noise pollution to continue.”
On April 30, 2018, Mr. Ballard was served with a summons to appear before the court on May 17, 2018.
Excerpts from Ontario resident wind turbine noise reports:
“You have done nothing to help myself or my family. How many times [do we have to complain] before the MOECC will do something?”
“Another week has passed with no response from you. It has been terrible here off and on the past week … continue to be unable to get a good night’s sleep.”
“When will you reopen our file and help us?”
“We just want to sleep …”
“After a week of east wind and no sleep in our house this has become intolerable … it is up to you to address this”
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