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Huge turbines would be 60-storeys high, and produce noise and vibration—but not industrial?

Ottawa’s rosy and completely unrealistic vision of wind turbines in the countryside [Shutterstock image]

September 30, 2021

Ottawa’s planning department had its one and only “legally mandated” Public Open House on the new Official Plan via Zoom last evening.

Manager of Planning Policy Alain Miguelez was the prime presenter, assuring participants that “We the planners care very much about our city.”

The team covered the “five big moves” featured in the new Official Plan or OP, specifically growth management, mobility, urban and community design, climate, energy and public health, and economic development.

The city is focusing on intensification to accommodate their forecast of growth of almost a half million people, while at the same time protecting “our cherished neighbourhoods.” The City is all in on the :”15-minute neighbourhood” concept which holds that everyone should be able to walk to essential services such as food shopping, pharmacy services, parks, etc.

The rural areas of Ottawa are “prized, sensitive areas,” Miguelez said.”We have a beautiful countryside in Ottawa.”

Any development would be in keeping with goal to “keep things away from homes such as noise and dust.”

REALITY: giant steel noisy industrial power generators [Wind Concerns Ontario photo by D. Larsen, Nation Rise, North Stormont]

The City wants to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to meet energy needs locally, staff said. Large-scale projects such as solar would be employed.

When it came time for Question & Answer, our question on how Ottawa could justify allowing industrial-scale wind turbines in the rural areas when this contradicts provincial policy, planning staff responded that wind turbines “shouldn’t be in the category of industrial use.”

“We recognize there are concerns, and there will be opportunities for input,” said Melissa Jort-Conway. “We want to get it right.”

A question was asked about small-scale nuclear power, but no Ottawa staff was able to respond.

Another staff person commented on development in rural communities and said that development would be restricted to 300 square metres, maximum, within a boundary of 1 km.

The City’s statement about wind turbines being an “on-farm diversified use” contradicts the Provincial Policy Statement which says: “uses that are secondary to the principal agricultural use of the property and are limited in area. On-farm uses include but are not limited to, home occupations, home industries, agritourism uses and uses that produce value-added agricultural products. Ground-mounted solar facilities are permitted in prime agricultural areas…”

That is not grid-scale or industrial-scale wind turbines.

The City’s stance also appears to contradict policy from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

While City staff appears to have worked hard on the Official Plan, their knowledge of rural communities

is scant and their perception of industrial-scale renewable energy facilities is completely uninformed.

Today’s turbines are 60-storey noise and vibration-producing behemoths that completely alter the character of a community and do produce adverse effects for some people. There also seems to be no provision whatsoever for any kind of cost-benefit analysis for wind power. Wind is high impact on the environment and communities for very little benefit. It is a major factor in increasing electricity prices which can result in energy poverty and negative impacts on business and agriculture.

We will continue to try to provide information to the City at every opportunity but we remain disappointed that Ottawa has not chosen to be a leader and use innovative technology for reliable and affordable local energy generation.