Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker asked members of the Multi Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group and about two dozen others for patience as the Progresive Conservative government addresses wind turbines.
“We’re going listen to you and we’re going to take action. This government is prepared to take an action that the last government wouldn’t do,” he said at a meeting Thursday.
But he noted the Ford government had been in power 100 days, coming in after the Liberals had governed for 18 years.
Walker was responding to a presentation by Ontario engineer Bill Palmer, who said that it wasn’t enough for the new government to rescind the Green Energy Act without changing the rules that regulate the wind energy industry, which involves several provincial ministries including the Ministry of Environment Energy and Parks, the Ministry of Housing responsible for some provincial policies, and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Palmer noted that a statement by the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario that there is no causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects still stands.
He wants Walker to help people to get access to the ministers involved and make their pitch for making the necessary changes.
Several people at the meeting have left their homes because of health effects they say are a result of living too close to wind turbines.
Martina Heyward, who lives near two of the wind turbines in the Durham East wind farm, claimed she sold her 50-member goat herd due to effects of living too close to wind turbines. She has now lost her source of income and says she also suffers health effects.
“I am on your side. I’ve been on your side since 2011 and I plan to stay on your side,” Walker said, but added, “It’s not going to get turned off in the first month, it’s going to get turned off in the second month. I hope all of you thought it was a good step getting rid of the Green Energy Act which all of you have been asking us to do.”
Walker said he expects changes will come but it could take time perhaps up to two years. “There’s a lot of detail, there’s a lot of things I can’t answer frankly and I am not the minister . . . you have to respect that the environment minister hasn’t even been a politician before,” he said.
“You can’t expect us at the highest level to suddenly turn everything all over. I think you’ve got to give us time to do this in an incremental (way). And to the families here that are impacted I’m not saying this lightly and I’m saying this without sincerity, I totally feel for what you have done . . . I do feel your pain, but it has to be done in a logical sequence,” he said.
Virginia Stewart Love of Grey Highlands said the government should shut down wind turbines if they are out of compliance.
“The biggest thing is that we have to prove that they will cause harm even before they are built,” she said.
She said she was hoping that Walker would bring news that something could be done sooner.
Walker said there is a bureaucracy that’s been advising the previous government for the past 15 on a certain direction that is not about to change direction over night.
“It won’t be a front page headline, but I think you are going to see an undertone of accountability throughout our government,” he said.
Walker said there will need to be investigations to see if things have been done inappropriately or even illegally. And if they have been done legally then that will require a legal remedy.
“Again have to take time. And you don’t change legislation within 100 days of government . . . We are going to put our legal team to find out how can we do that,” Walker said.
“But sadly for your benefit it takes two years to do.”
Walker said he plans to suggest the formation of an all party committee so that experts like Palmer can be brought in and get away from partisan politics, he said.
Lorrie Gillis, a long-time critic of the Green Energy Act, said she thinks Walker is discussing the reality of what’s happening.
“We’re going to continue working with people in the province who have health issues and we’re going to take some of these issues to the government,” she said.
“We feel like we finally have a government that has an ear open to listen to us for a change and we haven’t had that for 15 years,” Gillis said.
Randy Popper, chair of the Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, said he appreciated Walker bringing the group up to date.
He said he recognized that the MPP could not as one member of the government make decisions at Thursday’s meeting.
“We criticized some of the issues of the government and he’s going to take that back and say this is what the people had to say and what can we do. Right now that is all we can ask for,” Popper said.
“We don’t want to be left out; we want to be respected, we want our opinions to be respected and we want changes to happen.”
“I’m more than happy to support Bill that he’s going to take the information that he was given tonight and put it where it should be,” Popper said.
[rest of article available at source]