Letters

Aiming High

Posted: October 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Reality is setting in as South Marysburgh residents deal with the noise and increase of heavy vehicular traffic related to the construction activities at the White Pines Wind Project sites around Milford. Many are also grappling with the fact that their ancestral homes are undergoing the unwelcome intrusion of unneeded wind energy generators they will have to live with for two decades or more.

The many people who will be subjected to the sights and sounds of the project are unaware just how enormous industrial wind turbines are: total height of about 480 feet; each turbine base about 15 feet in diameter at ground level; turbine blade hub situated about 325 feet above the ground (approximately the top of the communications tower behind Minaker’s garage in Milford); each blade 139 feet; a blade sweep area of about 1.7 acres.

Let me explain what resistance to the White Pines Wind Project is NOT about: It is NOT about whether one is ‘for’ or ‘against’ green energy (and I’m generally in favour of it); it is NOT about wpd Canada and its nine-turbine White Pines Wind Project; it is NOT about the single mother trying to make ends meet by leasing her property to receive an extra $20,000 or so a year.

It is NOT about the local construction company desecrating agricultural land and the natural habitat of endangered species; and it is NOT about six landowners who will affect the lives of about 550 of their neighbours and friends by hosting the turbines. And it certainly is NOT about a bunch of former Toronto activists trying to impose their will on a rural community. All those examples simply act as the lightning rods for people’s emotions and anger.

So, let’s not shoot the messengers—let’s aim higher.

The town hall meetings, and the march and rally on October 15 were organized to talk about something much more important: the Green Energy Act (GEA), the draconian legislation that allowed all the foregoing to happen in the first place.

Some well-qualified legal experts could think of no comparable provincial or federal legislation to the GEA whereby consideration of the rights of a level of government, a municipality, people, or a class of residents were entirely ignored. As Jim MacPherson, a former resident of The County and now a guest columnist to the Toronto Sun, wrote in his column this week about the GEA, “Individual property rights were expropriated and local planning authorities were transferred from municipalities to the province. In effect, Ontario proclaimed itself an energy dictatorship.”

An example of what he’s talking about can be evidenced by the seemingly arbitrary (and secretive) decision of the Ontario government allowing the construction of the White Pines project to proceed despite its inability to meet its contracted output of 60 MW. This is the result of last spring’s ERT decision that removed two-thirds of the turbines from the project. As Terry Young, Vice President, Conservation and Corporate Relations at Independent Electrical System Operator (IESO) explained to me in an email, “As you know, the White Pines Wind Project changed earlier this year through the Environmental Review Tribunal process, reducing the proposed facility size from 59.45 MW to 18.45 MW. Any further information on the revised project should be sought from White Pines.”

The Ontario government has said that the GEA was introduced because rural municipalities were having difficulties with wind projects and wanted the province to create a uniform, level, legislated playing field across the province. There is no supporting evidence in Prince Edward County’s municipal records of any such request.

What the GEA has unleashed on Milford and its 550 surrounding residents and businesses are noise, health issues, environmental problems and severely reduced property values; it has created divisiveness between neighbours and friends; it opens the door to the possibility of future IWT projects elsewhere in PEC; it has ignored the County’s position as an unwilling host; and it has allowed threats of legal action against those who protest or conduct due diligence exercises regarding the project—including the municipality itself.

As Dalton McGuinty, then leader of the government that introduced the GEA, is alleged to have said about the anger of rural residents to the legislation, “They can’t stay mad at us forever.”

Wanna bet?

STEVE FERGUSON
COUNCILLOR, SOUTH MARYSBURGH