In August, the North Gower Wind Action Group sent out a questionnaire with background information and just two questions to candidates for the office of Mayor for the City of Ottawa and all candidates with email addresses running for City council.
The questions were:
1. What are your views on the proposed, large-scale industrial wind turbine project to be situated near the village of North Gower, and south Richmond?
2. If elected, would you put forward a motion to City Council that would ask Ontario to return the planning powers it had prior to the passage of the Green Energy Act (which removed municipalities’ powers to plan for renewable energy developments, and to protect their citizens) and actively work with Council members toward acceptance and passage of the motion?
We admit to being somewhat disappointed in the relative lack of response, but we are happy to report that most of those who did respond provided thoughtful comments, and said they would give this matter more attention in future. Many also provided additional comments.
As our goal is simply to provide information, we offer the comments here as received, and unedited; it is not our intent to endorse individual candidates, but to help voters make their own decisions come municipal Election Day.
Thank you to all who took the concerns of the citizens of North Gower and south Richmond seriously, and who took the time to think about this important issue.
Candidates for Mayor
Larry O’Brien: no response
Jim Watson: no response (Mr Watson’s remarks on the subject may be seen in an earlier post)
Clive Doucet: no response
Andy Haydon: Wind power is a large waste of financial resources and I am unalterably opposed to wind turbines.
Dr Cesar Bello: (1) If there is ample and verifiable scientific evidence to conclude that wind turbines cause serious health problems for some residents (specially children) living nearby; specially for those residents where planned turbines will be only 550 meters away from their homes, I am in favour to make an indeep review of The North Gower-Richmond Project that may lead our new Council to cancel it. (2) I would put forward a motion to City Council that would as Ontario to return the planning powers it had prior to passage of the Green Energy Act…and I actively work with Council members toward acceptance and passage of this motion. My strong commitment is to protect our residents safety and health.
Mike Maguire: (1) I am completely opposed to such a development for two reasons. I attended your information session at the North Gower RA and was shocked to learn about the experience of the residents in Southern Ontario with industrial wind turbines, the health concerns, the reduction in property values and the negative effects on migratory birds. Secondly, I object to such developments in principle due to the tremendous cost of these installations and their essential inefficiency. To choose such an expensive mode of power generation and then mandate that the public have to subsidize their operation is terribly regressive public policy and unfairly targets fixed income seniors, low income families and, small businesses. All-in-all, this is a classic bad idea from a group of politicians who are out of touch with reality. (2) Certainly, the so called ‘Green Energy Act’ is going to cause untold economic damage to the residents of Ontario and sets a dangerous precedent in that it allows un-elected bureaucrats to circumvent the Planning Act – this needs to be amended immediately. I think a vocal Mayor could also organize opposition to the costs associated with such a program and this would have an even greater effect on the overall policy of subsidizing industrial wind turbine installations.
Jane Scharf: (1)
The risks have not been adequately evaluated by the decision makers regarding the effects wind energy devices especially for the households that are only 550 meters from the site of the wind energy devices. As well local residences need to be involved in the decision making process. Ultimately locate residence should be the ones to make the final decision as to whether the devices can be installed in their neighbourhood. (2) I am committed to running city hall meetings by Roberts Rules of Order which prohibit the chair from discussion on any motion put forward and voting except in the case of a tie. However I do intend to enter into discussion and vote all matter pertaining to the decision making process itself. Therefore I would pass the chair to another council member when this matter is discussed and voted on.. My biggest concern is the decision-making process in matters such as this that impact the health and safety of a community. I support a motion to return the decision making back to the local constituency and preferably to the community directly involved. Therefore, as a citizen of Ottawa and council member I would strongly support a motion by City Council that would reinstate local decision making for energy projects.
My concern is that this is one of many examples of top down decision making that violates the public interest that is occurring in the city of Ottawa under the current administration and there is very little movement for reform.
Rideau-Goulbourn Ward 21 (3 out of 5 candidates responding)
Glenn Brooks (incumbent): My response has not changed from last year. (1) The controversy around wind turbines will remain on-going. The
Provincial Medical Officer of Health and the City of Ottawa’s MOH are on
record of seeing no medial problems with a 550 m setback from the nearest
house. Last year I put forth a motion that would have resulted in a moratorium on further construction of wind turbines. That motion failed. Due to Council policy that motion cannot rise to council unless there is “new”
information available. MOH’s claim there is no “new” information that has
not been reviewed. I personally don’t agree!! Solution:
Setbacks ought to be 1.5km from nearest house that would likely remove
neighbours concerns about health and noise. Property values are another
issue that needs to be address. Personally, I think there would be an
Ian J. MacCallum: I am not a fan of the fan. We need to stop this wind turbine project it has proven unsuccessful around the world not to mention the health ramifications. Waste to energy is what I think is the answer we have garbage and will always have so lets use it for some good.
Scott Moffatt: (1) Thanks to the NGWAG, I have been informed along every step of the way as to what is going on here in North Gower and around the province. It is my belief that North Gower is unlikely to be a suitable location to produce wind energy due to its low potential to produce efficient supply. Health concerns are hard to fight on, as you already know. There are two distinct sides with each essentially trying to debunk the other at every turn. This issue will never be won on health concerns. Those involved in the opposition must turn to the financial framework of the Green Energy Act itself. So far to date, $8 Billion to produce 1% of energy into the Ontario Hydro grid. Is this good value? I have seen my hydro bill continue to rise in the name of Green Energy. How much can we afford? The Green Energy Act is not sustainable. (2) As a city councillor, I need to focus on local and city issues that are within my control. Unfortunately, City Council has already voted down this motion in the past. Though I do not believe it was pushed very hard, it appears to me that there is little appetite around the current council table to look into this issue. I will definitely discuss the issue with my peers to get their feelings, explain your side of the argument in a reasonable and cooperative manner and determine a proper course of action. I cannot and will not make a promise I can’t keep and thus my response to this question.
River Ward 16
Michael Kostiuk: (1) This proposal needs more study to measure its benefits as well as any potential harmful effects. I am not fully convinced that building these large windmill farms is the right way to generate electricity or to become energy self sufficient. (2) Yes.
Capital Ward 17
Rob Brocklebank: (1) Until the receipt of your message I had been unaware of the project. My understanding from the material you have provided is that the project in question adheres to the provincial policies with respect to separation of wind generation projects from residences. I question how this project fits with the studies underway with respect to the development of the Village of Richmond. (2) There are many issues in the relationship between the province and the city which need to be considered. In particular a rewriting of the legislation under which the City of Ottawa was established should be reviewed. I have no knowledge of the movement by other municipalities to have provincial law changed but would be interested in learning of such initiatives and the reaction of the province. Wind turbines are not the top priority issue for me in reviewing the relationship with the province but I would be willing to look further into the issue.
I do not accept the idea that all wind generation projects are deleterious to human health. Nevertheless I question the extraordinary premium price which the province proposes to pay for electricity generated by wind turbines.
David Chernushenko: As you may know, I am personally very active in the renewable energy field, having just completed a film (Powerful – Energy for Everyone) which examines, among other issues related to energy, the pros and cons of wind projects. I am glad that you wrote to me, and you can find my responses to your questions below. (1) Although I am generally in favour of wind energy as part of the solution to meeting human energy needs more cleanly and sustainably, I recognize that there are some important impacts that come with large scale wind development, and a number of “potential” impacts, depending on siting, size, scales, etc. In simple terms, I believe that any project must have a significant amount of community ownership if it is to be acceptable to the community, and by insisting on this, the community will be forced to do its homework and come to its own conclusions about (a) what are the real risks/impacts, (b) what are the rumoured risks/impacts, (c) how to mitigate risks/impacts, and (d) whether or not to actually move forward with the project. The North Gower project appears to be one that is too large, too close to residents, and without sufficient community buy-in or actual ownership. All this might be improved without necessarily cancelling the project entirely,but that is your decision, and hard work on all sides lies ahead. (2) Yes, I would definitely put forward that motion and actively work with council to pass it.
[Comment] Please be skeptical about all the information you are hearing. Be skeptical of industry proponents, and be just as skeptical of opposition groups. Do your own homework, have your own discussions, and make up your own minds. It is too easy to be swayed by highly emotional outsiders. Make this your own process.
Ron LeBlanc: (1). I would certainly support a low impact, renewable energy developments. 2. yes, if elected I would put forward a motion to City Council that would ask Ontario to return the planning powers it had prior to passage of the Green Energy Act.
Kanata North Ward 4
Marianne Wilkinson: My view on the North Gower plan is that it’s too close to homes – the separation should be 2 kilometers.
I would support a motion to give the City control over planning the location of wind farms with more stringent distances to homes required.
College Ward 8
Ralph Anderson: (1) I am sympathetic to the situation of the residents in the shadow of those windmills. I am reminded of my only house buying excursion over twenty years ago when living under power lines was not a good selling point. The Ontario government continues to do heavy handed legislation that is convenient for them and those that they choose to do business with. The people usually hear about things way too late. That’s partly a failure in our democracy. The people don’t know what the government is planning to to do to them. The people should have been out front, setting the agenda. At times, it is easy to feel that our governments never intends for the people to know what’s going to happen until it’s too late. There was some media attention. They reported your predicament, but too late. When elected, I will be generally supportive of democractic good government. I suspect that the Green Energy Act has the right idea. But implementation, as in other wide ranging legislation, will be rushed and bull doze the unsuspecting public in its path. Would I support a motion to regain the lost powers of our community? All you get from me today is a maybe. In passing the buck sideways, I would support a motion by your councillor to “ask” the province to stop this particular project if your issues have not yet received a full and open airing. I would be nice to find a compromise.
Catherine Gardner: (1) I am opposed to the use of wind turbines! Not only are they unsightly but I feel that they will do more harm to our communities including to the residents, animals (pets and farm), wildlife (land, sea and air) and the environment. I feel that the cost to consumers to install and run these turbines will be far greater than the proposed benefits. (2) Yes, I am opposed to the wind turbines and will work hard to ensure that they are not installed. I will advocate strongly for the protection of all aspects of any community where the turbines may be proposed.
I feel we need to find other alternatives which will provide higher benefits without causing damage to our communities/environments. We must also work towards finding alternatives where the money put into green energy stays within our Communities and Country!
Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward 13
Rawlson King: (1) I believe that the City of Ottawa needs to protect and preserve its green spaces and the unique character of its rural communities. Furthermore, I believe that any type of development should reflect the nature of a community and add to its quality of life. As a consequence, despite the fact that I support green power generally, I would not support industrial-scale energy projects if they are less than two kilometers away from homes in your community. (2) I would not put forward a motion. I believe that the Councillor in the directly affected Ward should put forward a motion. However, I would support a motion that sought the restoration of municipalities’ powers to plan for renewable energy developments, if introduced.
Barrhaven Ward 3
Derek Hallworth: Not to mention the nearly 7 billion dollar price tag with Samsung. Thanks Mr. McGuinty. Also, thanks for the extra $400 (about) that I’ll have to come up with for electricity. I’m not an expert or engineer of any kind, but I’ve heard these wind turbines will produce a minimal amount of energy (0.3% is a number that I heard on CFRA). The whole Green Energy Act is a sham as far as I’m concerned, thanks to a few tree huggers. The same thing happened back in 2006 in Nova Scotia. I’ll admit that I was unaware that this was happening, but you’d think the higher-ups we elect would have learned something. http://www.windaction.org/news/3003 I have absolutely no political experience at all, but if this is a project that I would have the ability to stop, I would do my best to stop it.
O’Neil Brooke: There are many issues with wind power. For those that think this form of renewable energy will be a magic bullet for our addiction to hydrocarbons, you need to keep researching; wind energy is not going to do it all. That being said we should still continue to develop our wind resources! While we seek to exploit these resources though we need to keep in mind the environmental impacts. The primary environmental impacts wind energy systems have on people is sound and vibration. Imagine having a squeaky machine that runs 24 hours a day disturbing your sleep, your conversations, your quiet enjoyment of your property! If we allow it, these machines can render property virtually uninhabitable. I don’t know about you, but when I am subjected to a persistent low intensity noise, it disrupts my concentration, my sleep and I get head aches.
It is entirely appropriate for the City to regulate how wind power is exploited within the city limits. As we look at this issue the city should prioritize the development of this resource while ensuring that it’s development does not interfere with other residents and their use of land. The North Gower Wind Action Group may be interested in the City of Ottawa Noise ByLaw. Specifically section 4 and 5…
Orleans Ward 1
Jennifer Robitaille.(1) I am concern about health-related issues which have been reported in relation to the industrial wind turbines installed across the world. I have doubts as to the objectivity of professionals reporting that these units have no affect on local residents and their health. I support green-energy initiatives which are sustainable and do not affect the health on residents or local wild-life. (2) Yes.
To email the North Gower Wind Action Group, email@example.com
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