Posted: April 22, 2016 at 8:47 am   /   by   /   comments (9)

One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.- George Orwell

They didn’t come to talk about industrial wind turbines. Rather, the two emissaries from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)—an agency of the province of Ontario—came to apologize.

MPAC is the government agency that determines the value of your home or property for municipal taxation purposes. They know they do a poor job of it. They have such low confidence in their ability to assess the value of your home, particularly in rural, heterogeneous neighbourhoods, one phone call is often all it takes to have an assessment reduced.

So the MPAC folks came to Shire Hall to say they are sorry and want to do better. Part of a dog-and-pony-apology tour across Ontario. They came with plans to improve the way they, and clerks in municipalities across the province, might work together better.

County council members, however, wanted to know about industrial wind turbines. Specifically, they wanted to know the impact on property values of 50-storey machines erected in a scenic rural shoreline. The MPAC folks were prepared for the question. They get it a lot.

Leaning heavily on MPAC’s own study based on 2012 data, the representatives assured council industrial wind turbines nearby had “no statistically significant impact on sale prices.” When it conducted the analysis, the provincial agency knew its findings would meet with a skeptical reception, so it hired an American consultant to examine the data too. It, however, found a statistically significant impact lowering the sale prices of homes near industrial wind turbines, but that the impact was small.

That was the information shared with council. Council believed it was true.

Ed and Gail Kenney have been battling MPAC for seven years. In 2008, the couple’s Wolfe Island home was valued at $200,000. The following year, 86 industrial wind turbines sprouted around his home. Fluctuating pressure caused by the turbines makes Ed uncomfortable and edgy—he finds it difficult to sleep. Yet he doesn’t want to move.

That same year MPAC determined the value of the Kenneys’ home had risen to $375,000—driving their municipal taxes much higher. They appealed. If anything, the value of their home was less because of the turbines, not more. It took several years and a small fortune, yet they lost their appeal.

“The board found that based on the evidence, in this case, there appeared to be no evidence of any negative impact to the value of the property,” concluded the MPAC appeal panel.

The case raised serious questions about how MPAC conducts its evaluations. The hard data appeared to contradict its conclusion. A small corps of amateurs pored over the data. They found a correlation between a decline in sale prices and proximity to industrial wind turbines. But they were just raising more questions. There was no hard evidence or academic research contradicting MPAC. Until now.

A new study prepared by Clarkson University and Nanos Research paints a very different picture of what happened as a result of the industrial wind turbines on Wolfe Island.

The Clarkson-Nanos study concludes that a massive wind project proposed for Galloo Island— part of a chain of islands that includes the Duck Islands stretching from Prince Edward Point to Henderson, New York—will likely depress property values of homes with a view of the turbines. The researchers calculate the impact is likely to be more than $40 million while providing the community with little value in return.

But surely the most surprising aspect of their research, for Ontario residents at least, was what they learned about property values directly across from Wolfe Island.

Clarkson-Nanos found that properties with a view of the western side of Wolfe Island, in and around Cape Vincent, prior to turbines being built, commanded a premium of about 10 per cent relative to similar properties. After the turbines were constructed, however, they found a “strong negative impact” on property values. Further, their analysis determined that industrial wind turbines reduce property values on the American mainland by about 15 per cent.

So let’s get this straight. MPAC and its consultant couldn’t detect a significant impact on property values on homes in the shadow of these looming mechanical giants—yet across the channel, an independent research body found homes are worth far less because their view includes industrial wind turbines.

It is obvious to those with eyes that industrial wind turbines impair property values. It is surely why the province wouldn’t tolerate an appeal based on economic or property losses as a result of an industrial wind project located nearby.

Yet the provincial government continues to compel its agencies to tell the public a different story.

The last shreds of credibility MPAC may have once had, now lie in tatters. It has been revealed as just another tentacle of the Green Energy Act. Yet another provincial agency trained, bullied and manipulated to toe the line.

This is deeply worrying. When our agencies and institutions work to deceive the public or withhold evidence, they cross a line that should never be tested. When they get up in the morning to undo the protections they were hired to establish and enforce, they become worse than useless. When they mislead others on behalf of their government masters, they become threats to the public good.


(Find the Clarkson-Nanos report by clicking here)







Comments (9)

  • May 2, 2016 at 2:16 pm B.Melick

    If you are in doubt or just afraid of coal, take a few minutes and check the hydro production in Saskatchewan. Not only is it the most economical system, it also generates employment.
    P.S. If you are so concerned about carbon- stop breathing as you are omitting it

  • April 27, 2016 at 4:28 am Andreas Marciniak

    ” It’s always about the almighty Dollar $$$$$$$$$$$$..The fact is ! There is no safe distance for wind Turbines, NOT GREEN, NOT CHEAP, NOT RELIABLE, and come with a very BAD side EFFECT on people and the ENVIRONMENT. there is Nothing GREEN about WIND TURBINES . SAY NO TO WIND TURBINES.

  • April 26, 2016 at 8:59 am wgulden

    John Macdonell – you’re offering up a false choice, typical of wind proponents. Tailing ponds are not built among residents. Wind turbines are. Additionally, the energy represented by a tailing pond is several orders of magnitude larger than the energy represented by a wind project of similar footprint.

    I agree, an informed discussion is needed. By the way, I’m no fan of coal mines. If we are serious about reducing CO2 and are also serious about maintaining a modern standard of living, nuclear is the only viable choice we presently have.

  • April 25, 2016 at 6:33 pm wgulden

    I guess I’m one of the “small corps of amateurs” that pored over the 2012 MPAC study. I wrote a 4-part series on the study. To sum it up, it’s a mess and not just because of its conclusions.

    My web site has my postings. It got hacked the day before this article was published (I’m sure it was a coincidence) but it is back online now.

  • April 25, 2016 at 4:17 pm John Macdonell

    Impact on property values is debatable because opinions on this are subjective.

    Would you rather live near a turbine or a tailings pond?

    This info from S Dakota(produces >25% of its energy from wind) is from a wind power organization and so may be accused of being one-sided. Nevertheless, it can be a starting point towards an informed discussion:

  • April 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm Sommer

    In Huron County we have real estate agents who clearly reduce the value of properties dramatically in proximity to turbines when discussing an asking price with a client and yet MPAC is not lowering taxes.

    What a mess!

    We must demand that this is sorted out once and for all as soon as possible!

  • April 25, 2016 at 9:04 am A.Adams

    We won’t be reading about this scandal in the mainstream media without considerable pressure to do so… lets get it out there!

  • April 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm Patti Kellar

    This government’s continued ineptitude is profoundly disturbing.
    Sincere thanks for attempting to enlighten the masses.

  • April 24, 2016 at 3:42 pm C. Keen

    MPAC continues to deny that IWTs affect property values because their flawed assessments do not reflect the market value of a home. It simply makes no sense that a two-bedroom home can have the same market value in the County, downtown Toronto and North Bay; but their assessed value, according to MPAC, might be very similar.

    As a resident in the IWT “Hot Zone”, I had my home appraised by a professional appraiser several years ago. His appraisal was roughly 30% higher than my MPAC assessed value based on sales of equivalent County properties at that time. If I had put my house up for sale, but could not sell it at market value, I could reduce the price by roughly 20% before it would be in line with MPAC’s assessed value. As long as it sold for $1 more than its assessed value, the threat of IWTs did not impact its MPAC value.

    A neighbour, also in the IWT “Hot Zone”, had his house on the market for several years. It finally sold recently at well below its market value, but literally a few dollars more than its assessed value. Very bad for him because he needed the money to fund his retirement; but once again, no impact as far as MPAC and Wynne are concerned.

    Oh, and the appraiser’s opinion on the effects of turbines on the neighbourhood’s property values based on experience in other parts of Ontario? A drop of anywhere from 25% – 40% in market value!

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