Letter: Wind power fight about anti-democratic legislation

John De Vellis obviously knows what he’s writing about (see “Wind power issues more about politics than health,” Law Times, Oct. 1) as he has done a good job of representing renewable-energy developers on matters flowing from the feed-in tariff scam.

But his perspective is necessarily limited. Here’s another side.
Imagine Toronto’s High Park bulldozed flat to welcome 38 wind turbines, each taller than the Fairmont Royal York Hotel or Ottawa’s Peace Tower and sitting on massive concrete platforms with kilometres of wire on posts connecting them to a substation and the hydro network.

It would be like having an industrial factory from Bloor Street to the Queensway surrounded on three sides by homes, many of them built in the 19th century.

But in the quaintly named “centre of the universe,” it won’t happen. Never disturb urban dwellers, particularly if they are members of the New Democratic or Liberal parties whose ridings surround the area. But feel free to do what you will with your fellow Ontarians somewhere out there in the boondocks all over southwestern and eastern Ontario.

All of this brings us to Prince Edward County, an area just two hours east of Toronto and one of the province’s current go-to destinations because of its pristine beauty, flourishing agricultural and tourist economies, the famous Sandbanks, good restaurants, and increasingly upscale wineries.

Located on its scenic south coast is Ostrander Point, an internationally recognized and designated important bird area with twice yearly migration flows of birds, bats, and butterflies exceeding that of Point Pelee and home to several species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

It’s the domain of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources whose mandate, according to its web site, includes implementing the act and enhancing the protection of our natural heritage.

So what does the ministry do? It allows Gilead Power Corp. to install nine massive turbines slap in the middle of one of the largest flyways in North America and the harassment of endangered species during construction.

The cumulative effect of these turbines — plus those on Wolfe Island (with a demonstrated huge annual kill) and others planned for Amherst Island — horrifies every naturalist organization of provincial, national, and international standing.

There’s more. If Queen’s Park issues the appropriate consents to operate, the ministry will sell a portion of its lands to Gilead for a substation and receive substantial income from each turbine for 20 years. It could last 35 years under an option to extend the deal.

Queen’s Park issues the consents while the same government’s ministry receives large payments sourced from taxes and hydro bills. It sounds like a blatant conflict of interest.

There’s still more. A company named wpd Canada Corp. (it prefers the lower case) is a German business aiming to place 29 turbines next to those of Gilead scattered across South Marysburgh, Ont. Eight of them are within the same designated important bird area.

The transmission line carrying Gilead and wpd power to the hydro hookup will be 29 kilometres long and will cross a substantial part of the entire county on up to 400 poles more than 20 meters high.

The towering wind factories will permanently scar the scenic beauty of one of Ontario’s jewels for all time. And there are plans for even more turbines for the southern and western parts of the county.

A vote in South Marysburgh on the issue elicited a strong turnout. The question was simple: yes or no to turbines? More than 90 per cent voted no. Nobody at Queen’s Park listened and our local council can do little in the face of the Green Energy Act.

Contrary to the wind industry and Queen’s Park obfuscations and spin, there’s evidence, globally and in Ontario, of health problems within two kilometres of a turbine, reduced property values, and adverse effects on local economies.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corp. will be receiving thousands of appeals from property owners located close to existing or threatened turbines. As its counterpart in Britain has already done, it will have to start lowering assessments with severe effects on rural tax bases.

There’s some good news as Health Canada has called for a study into the health effects and there are at least two injunction applications outstanding around Ontario to prevent Queen’s Park from issuing consents and wind developers from building. May they be successful.

None of this is about saving the planet for our grandchildren. Rather, it’s the imposition of a concept flawed ab initio by an act of frightening scope that deprives many Ontario residents of any say in what happens where they live, potentially expropriates without compensation part or much of their life savings, and affects the health of some people. Our grandchildren will inherit this entire mess.

Garth Manning,
Retired lawyer and former president
of the Ontario Bar Association,
Prince Edward County

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