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Earlier draft failed to include statement on protecting prime farmland from industrial uses like wind turbines

November 1,1021

Ottawa City Council approved the draft Official Plan last week, on October 27th, and included a new paragraph relevant to wind power development in the rural areas of the City.

Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt acknowledged last week in his constituent newsletter that the change had been made. The new paragraph in Section 4.11 of the Official Plan reads:

“6)  Large-scale provincially regulated wind turbines are not permitted on lands designated Agricultural Resource Area.  This policy does not apply to small-scale wind generation associated with a permitted principal use.

Ottawa Wind Concerns (OWC) noted previously that there appeared to be no express intent to protect prime agricultural land in the Plan, dealing with “renewable energy facilities” which would include large-scale wind power. The community group had consulted a municipal law specialist lawyer who confirmed the group’s concern.

OWC filed a 30-page submission to the Joint Planning and Agricultural Affairs Committee, of which Councillor Moffatt was Co-chair, in advance of the Official Plan being submitted to Council. A motion requested that protection of prime agricultural land be expressed in the Plan (as is directed by Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement).

When Councillor Moffatt put forward the new paragraph at the Joint Committee meeting reviewing the Official Plan, other councillors said they had had many calls and emails about wind turbines, and welcomed the new addition.

“This is an important step forward,” says Jane Wilson, chair of Ottawa Wind Concerns. “The previous version of Ottawa’s Official Plan stated that large-scale wind turbines could go in Ottawa’s rural areas, including our best farm land. Power generation from wind is an industrial land use, and not appropriate for valuable food-producing land.”

But it’s not the end of the fight for Ottawa’s rural communities.

“Turbines or wind power generators are not an appropriate land use near homes, either,” Wilson said. “That will be addressed next.”

The community group has asked specifically that the Plan include a requirement that any form of renewable energy generation undergo a full cost-benefit and impact analysis. That was not included in the addition to the Official Plan but will be important in the development of zoning bylaws, Wilson said.

Councillor Moffatt claimed in his newsletter that

“… there are no planned industrial wind turbines within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa at this time.

In the Ottawa climate action strategy focused on energy use, however, there is a list of 20 projects to be worked on before 2025—Table 7 in the document states that the City must install 20 megawatts of wind as well as new hydro, solar, and electricity storage.

Also in the document is a statement that the energy “model” should include 3,218 megawatts of wind power as part of “minimum results” to achieve Net Zero by 2050.