THUNDER BAY – Across Ontario opposition to wind turbine projects continues to grow. Over the past week, the total number of ‘Unwilling Host’ municipalities grew to 71 as South Dundas and Bruce County endorsed resolutions removing support for more wind turbines in their municipalities. This number has more than doubled since the provincial government announced in late May that they were going to address municipal concerns with the wind turbine program. Two more Councils, Greater Napanee and West Elgin, are expected to consider related resolutions at meetings this week.
In Thunder Bay local opposition to wind turbines on the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment continues.
This growing opposition is a response to activities by wind turbine companies in areas not previously affected by projects and an understanding that Ontario does not need more electricity at this time. Municipalities are seeing the impact of existing turbines on their communities or their neighbours and do not want the same things to happen in their municipality. The government’s proposals for community benefit programs and community sponsorship do not address the core problems being created when wind turbines are located too close to people. As Mayor April Jeffs of Wainfleet states, ‘municipalities are looking for solutions to the real problems, not public relations gimmicks’.
CanWEA has organized a conference in Toronto this week with no representatives of ‘Unwilling Host’ municipalities invited to provide an alternate perspective in any of their panel discussions. The conference is essentially the wind industry talking to itself. While the government has held many consultations over the summer months, the meetings were focused in urban areas with little or no direct experience with wind turbines. No meetings were scheduled in areas where turbines are operational or proposed.
Kevin Marriott, Mayor of Enniskillen calls on the government to hold some real consultation with rural Ontario before they move forward with this program. The government has indicated that an announcement regarding the guidelines for new large-scale FIT projects is planned for the end of October or in early November.
Municipalities are looking for real planning authority for wind turbines to be returned to local governments. Municipalities are better placed than Queen’s Park civil servants to identify local issues that need to be addressed in reviewing wind turbine projects. They also have processes in place to review and approve other complex or controversial building projects within their jurisdiction. These municipalities are also looking for the government to follow up on the health complaints being filed with Medical Officers of Health and for the MOE to stop denying that there are problems with excess audible and low frequency noise and actually enforce their noise standards.
The Coalition of ‘Unwilling Hosts’ grew out of a meeting of municipal officials held during this summer’s AMO conference in Ottawa. The current list of the 71 “Unwilling Host’ municipalities is attached with a map available at http://ontario-unwilling-hosts.org/ouh-d10.html