OWC says action needed on province’s wind turbine proposals

From the Manotick Messenger

OOttawa Wind Concerns executive members Jane Wilson and Michael Baggott spoke at the meeting of the Ottawa Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) last week, and alerted the Committee that action is needed following the proposals by the Ford Government to change regulations on wind turbine projects.

Four new amendments to regulations are in response to Ontario municipalities demanding a return of local land-use planning powers, which were stripped from municipalities by the McGuinty Government and the Green Energy Act.

“The amendments have not been proclaimed yet,” said Jane Wilson, Chair of the Ottawa community group, “but we need to be ready in the event a wind power proposal is made in future.”

A wind power project was proposed in 2008 for the North Gower-Richmond area, with potential to spread to Osgoode. The project did not proceed when the Germany-based proponent failed to qualify for the last round of proposals under the Wynne government. It would have exposed hundreds of people to wind power generator noise — a fact that was acknowledged at the time by the power developer.

“Today, we know a lot more about wind power,” said Ottawa Wind Concerns Chair Jane Wilson. “We know that many wind turbines in Ontario were sited improperly and we know that many mistakes were made — the former Energy Minister said that in 2017. And, we know there are thousands of records of noise complaints in Ontario, that have not been resolved, and are waiting on enforcement of regulations.”

One of the proposals is that power developers must balance any environmental impacts against the benefit of their proposed power project. “The problem is,” Wilson told the Committee, “Ontario’s rules on wind turbine noise and setbacks for safety are inadequate and out of date. The supporting document the previous government used is now ten years old, and does not reflect practices in other countries around the world.”

She added that the Ontario regulations on noise do not meet new guidelines published last fall by the World Health Organization.

“You have to remember that wind turbines produce a range of noise emissions— it’s not like barking dogs, or traffic.”

The amended regulations also require power developers to prove their project meets all zoning regulations locally. This is a problem, Wilson said, because under the Green Energy Act, municipalities had no say, so there was no reason for them to have any such zoning or bylaws as would apply to the huge wind power projects.

Ottawa Wind Concerns referred to a comment document prepared by Wind Concerns Ontario, which recommended municipalities ask the Ford government for a transition period in which they could begin the work on bylaws, and to develop new, adequate rules for setbacks between homes and turbines, and new noise limits for wind turbines.

Ottawa has already shown leadership Wilson said, in passing a bylaw asking for “substantive” input to wind turbine projects, and now is the time to take action to protect residents from the industrial-scale wind power projects.

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