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Are Ottawa’s rural residents just collateral damage for City Hall’s $57B climate action plan?

Children living next to huge noisy wind turbines in Ontario: where is “equality” with city residents?


September 14, 2022

With the municipal election campaign now in gear, candidates for council and the mayor’s chair are talking about ideas and platforms.

From the mayoral candidates in particular, we hear talk about “affordability” and “equality” and “accessibility.”

(How can we have “affordable housing” when Ottawa’s $57B Energy Evolution plan proposes actions, like installing 700 wind turbines, that will raise electricity bills significantly?)

The notion of “equality” is intriguing because in the rural areas, the sentiment is that rural voices don’t get heard much at City Hall. That was cited as an issue in the Rogers TV candidate debate held for Ward 21 Rideau-Jock.

So, when it comes to the city’s $57B Energy Evolution climate action plan, is there “equality” for rural residents?

No.

When city staff revealed the plans for wind turbines (they didn’t say how many then, but we know now they think around 710 will be needed) in June 2021 during a discussion for rural residents about the new Official Plan, there was immediate pushback from those participating in the sparsely attended, poorly publicized online event.

When residents objected to having industrial-scale wind turbines, then Manager of Planning Policy Alain MIguelez said, in effect, the city wants renewables to provide power and “That power has to come from somewhere.”

Meaning you, you rural folk.

More recently, in a meeting of the Environmental Protection Committee, councillor (and chair) Scott Moffatt said he heard a lot of negative reaction to the prospect of wind turbines.

In response, city climate manager Andrea Flowers confirmed that the city “explicitly” said it wants wind and solar and that resident concerns would be met by zoning bylaws and “technology.”

The reality is that rural residents are already being regarded as collateral damage in the city’s plan to run a metropolis of more than 1.1 million people on “predominately” wind and solar power.

City climate manager Mike Fletcher spoke of Ottawa’s rural communities as “vast areas” for wind power development in a letter to the Ontario Energy Board … as if no one lives there.

Both forms of power generation are extremely land-intensive, gobbling up acres of valuable land for wind turbines, their access roads and associated infrastructure such as transformer substations, power cabling and more.

Wind turbines in particular add noise pollution to the environment, are a risk to wildlife especially

bats which are crucial to the ecosystem and agriculture, and, in areas of vulnerable aquifers wind turbines with their monstrous foundations also pose a risk to the water supply.

But to the Non Government Organizations (NGOs) advising the City of Ottawa (Pollution Probe actually wrote the electricity section of Energy Evolution), rural residents are simply inhabitants of a giant resource plantation.

Equality? For rural residents? Not in Ottawa.

A question for municipal election candidates during this campaign: what about “equality” for rural citizens? Where do you stand on protecting the environment and quality of life in Ottawa’s rural communities?

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